Ireland plans May vote on legalizing same-sex marriage

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

DUBLIN — Prime Minister Enda Kenny says Ireland‘s voters will be asked to legalize same-sex marriage, a government-backed measure that reflects rapid social change in the predominantly Catholic nation.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Kenny told lawmakers Tuesday that the government would subject its planned Marriage Equality Bill to a public referendum in May, though a precise date has not been selected.

The vote is needed to amend the family section of Ireland’s 77-year-old constitution.

Ireland legalized civil partnerships for same-sex couples in 2011. Such partnerships confer weaker legal rights than for a married couple on matters of child custody and welfare access, particularly in event of relationship breakdown.

Recent Irish opinion polls indicate more than 70 percent of voters support legalizing same-sex marriage.

More than a dozen nations and most U.S. states already have taken the step.

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