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.
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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