DUBLIN — Ireland will hold a referendum aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage after a the Irish Constitutional Convention on Sunday voted overwhelmingly in favor of extending marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.
The convention voted 79 percent in favor of amending the constitution to allow for same-sex marriage, 19 percent voted against, and the remainder had no opinion, reported the Irish Times.
Supporters of the proposal, some of whom cheered and wept as the result was announced this afternoon, hailed it as a landmark on the road towards equality for gay couples and urged the Government to act swiftly by calling a referendum. The convention’s recommendation will now be sent to the Government, which has pledged to hold a debate in the Oireachtas and set out its response within four months.
The members also voted in favour of recommending that the State pass laws “incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children”.
LGBT advocacy groups quickly hailed the news as “an historic step.”
“It is a major milestone on the remarkable journey to full constitutional protection for lesbian and gay people and families in Ireland,” said Brian Sheehan, Director of the Gay and Lesbian Network. “It builds on the extraordinary progress we have achieved over the last 20 years, and clearly demonstrates that Ireland is ready to take the next step to complete that remarkable journey.”
The Marriage Equality director Moninne Griffith said the vote proved “Ireland is ready for equality for same-sex couples and wants equal access to civil marriage for loving committed gay and lesbian couples”.
The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference denounced the measure, calling the vote “disappointing.”
“The Catholic church will continue to promote and seek protection for the uniqueness of marriage between a woman and a man, the nature of which best serves children and our society,” said a spokesman for the Catholic Communications Office.
Under the Irish constitution, the constitutional change must be approved by voters.
A January poll found that 75 percent of Irish voters would vote yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples – an increase of 12 percent from previous research in 2008.