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Our parents are gay ... but we're still a family

AN unconventional Dublin family is fronting a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the number of same sex families.

Posters will depict real couples and their families as part of the We Are Family campaign.

Lesbian and gay families have no legal rights and protections in Ireland because only a family based on marriage is recognised as a legal family.

Civil marriage will legally recognise and protect same-sex families, but civil partnership will not.



SICK

Orla Howard and Grainne Cunningham have been together seven years and have joined the campaign for equal marriage rights.

The couple live with their children Clare (19) and Daire (16) in Drumcondra, but Orla explains that the Civil Partnership Bill does little to extend to them rights which are afforded to any family.

"We don't have the opportunity to marry the same way as any other couple," Orla said. "The reality is, if anything happened to me or if the kids got sick, I would still be a stranger as far as the law is concerned.

"Someone else who is acting as a parent -- someone remarrying and becomes a step parent -- their rights come guaranteed.

"But these rights are not going to be available for us under the Civil Partnership Bill."

Orla works in advertising and Grainne is a doctor and the family became involved in the campaign when they saw that the opportunity to eliminate discrimination was slipping away from them if the Bill is passed as it stands.

"My motivation is that I am trying to get equality for my life, for my children," Orla said. "It's so unequal and so wrong.

"If I wanted to give one of the girls some funds to buy a car, they would still have to claim it as gift tax.

"For us the Civil Partnership Bill will take care of some of the rights, but it goes a very short way. It doesn't look after the needs of my family." Orla said that they had not directly experienced discrimination, they knew that it existed in the law.

"The kids go to Mount Temple and they are in an environment where difference is celebrated and they have great family support," she said.

"They don't understand why they should be treated any differently. They see that they are the same as their pals, their cousins, their school friends."



HYPOTHETICAL

And she said that if the law was changed, Irish people would be more open about same sex marriage.

"Discrimination comes about from people being set apart as different," Orla said. "One will follow the other. Like the smoking ban, like the plastic bag tax, people will follow.

"All the discussion up until now has been hypothetical. There are thousands of families like ours. What about all of the families that are out there already? What about our rights?"

Further information about the campaign can be obtained at www.marriagequality.ie/ wearefamily

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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