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Irish Parliament Rejects Gay Unions Bill
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: February 22, 2007 - 9:00 pm ET

(Dublin) The Irish Parliament has voted down a bill that would have given gay and lesbian couples all of the rights of marriage.  The private members bill was introduced by Labor Party justice critic Brendan Howlin was modeled after Britain's civil unions law.

In voting against the measure the government of Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said it went too far. 

The government is preparing its own legislation which it said would be brought in later this year. The bill is expected to provide some recognition of same-sex relationships in property and inheritance rights but deny gay couples adoption rights.

A government committee set up late last year to study ways of providing rights to same-sex couples has yet to make its recommendations.

Howlin said he was tired of foot dragging by the government.  

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said the Howlin bill would be unconstitutional because it equated civil partnerships with marriage.  The constitution says the government is obligated to defend the institution of marriage, but it does not define it.

Howlin's bill was defeated by a wide margin among government and opposition backbenchers.

Recent public opinion polls show that 84 percent are in favor of some recognition of same-sex couples while 53 percent would allow gay couples to marry.

Last December the high court ruled that a couple wed in Canada cannot have that marriage recognized in Ireland. 

In a 138 page judgment the court ruled that there was no provision for same-sex marriage in the Irish constitution. 


© 2007


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