Taoiseach Enda Kenny called on to declare support for same sex marriages
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has been called on to declare his support for marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen) said it was time for Mr Kenny to follow Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore who have both publicly supported it.
Glen chair, Kieran Rose, said the forthcoming Constitutional Convention provides the opportunity to address all the issues.
"The Taoiseach, in declaring his support for civil marriage, would give clear political leadership, building on the success of civil partnership and the very strong public support for progress to the next step," he said.
Earlier Mr Shatter indicated his support for gay marriage.
"I believe that individuals should be allowed to get on with their lives freely in circumstances in which their circumstances don't detrimentally impact on others," he said.
"I fully support equality, I fully support civil partnership - and I think it's in the public interest this Constitution issue be addressed in the Constitutional Convention that is going to be held."
Yesterday Mr Gilmore said he believed in gay marriage, adding that the right of gay couples to marry was a civil rights issue for this generation.
Mr Shatter said there was nothing the Tanaiste said which he personally disagreed with.
However he admitted the difficulty is in Ireland's Constitution which, under Article 41, makes reference to marriage.
"That reference in multiple court cases has been defined as referring to a marriage between a man and a woman," added Mr Shatter.
"This issue is an issue that needs to be addressed (and), is going to be addressed in the Constitutional Convention."
Civil partnership was introduced in Ireland in 2010.
The first public services took place in April last year giving couples the same rights in terms of tax, social welfare and other legal issues as married couples.
But the issue of same sex marriage will be examined by the Constitutional Convention.
Mr Rose said lesbian and gay couples all over Ireland are having civil partnerships, joyfully celebrating with their families and friends.
"They and the enthusiastic public support in polls clearly show that Ireland is ready to move to civil marriage," he added.
"The people of Ireland, in their open hearted welcoming of civil partnerships have spoken, saying we are entitled to marry.
"To move to marriage now and provide full Constitutional equality for lesbian and gay people is not a massive legislative leap; it is an incremental step building on the success of Civil Partnership legislation."