Civil Marriage/Civil Partnership

GLEN has been working for the past decade to advance equality in civil marriage for same-sex couples and for broader family law reform to provide recognition for families headed by same-sex couples. The passage of the marriage referendum in May 2015 by a resounding majority of Irish citizens was a major milestone in Irish life but also more particularly in the lives of Irelands' LGBT people.

GLEN's contribution to the enactment of comprehensive civil partnership is based on active engagement with successive governments, all political parties, state agencies, social partners and other policy makers, the media, lesbian and gay people and the wider Irish public. In particular, GLEN has been involved in a number of critical incidents since 2000 that have been especially important in getting to the point of the enactment of the legislation. These are summarised chronologically as follows. Click here for a fuller chronology.

2002 Equality Authority Report calls for equality in civil marriage for same-sex couples. Four members of GLEN participated on the advisory group to the Equality Authority which produced the report Implementing Equality for Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals.

2005-2006 Following a series of meetings with GLEN, the Minister for Justice establishes Working Group on Domestic Partnership, chaired by Anne Colley, to bring to government legislative options for same-sex and other classes of relationships. Eoin Collins, Director of Policy Change in GLEN was appointed by the Minister to the working group.

2006, June. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern launches GLEN's five year strategy that includes marriage and broader fmaily law reform as key strategic goals. The Taoiseach's positive speech on equality for LGB people was widely covered in the media and had a significant impact on future progress.

2006 November. Report of the Government's Colley Working Group was published by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The report proposed just two options for legal recognition of same-sex couples: marriage or full civil partnership, giving the same rights and obligations as marriage. In line with GLEN's position, the Group said that marriage was the full equality option for same-couples. It went on to state that marriage was "vulnerable to constitutional challenge" but that the first case on this issue (the Zappone Gilligan case) was currently before the High Court.

2006 December. GLEN described the rejection by the High Court of a case taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan to have their Canadian marriage recognised in Ireland as a lost opportunity to affirm the status of lesbian and gay people as equal citizens under the constitution. In its discussion on the option of civil marriage, the Colley Working Group had noted that the judgment on this case was awaited.

2006, December. On the same day as the Zappone/Gilligan case was lost in the High Court, the Labour Party introduced their Civil Union's Bill for same-sex couples. Civil Unions, the Labour Party noted, was based on the full civil partnership model proposed by Colley. The party believed that civil unions was a constitutionally feasible way forward given the perceived vulnerability of same-sex marriage to constitutional challenge - a perception that was strengthened by the loss of the Zappone/Gilligan case in the High Court. GLEN supported the Labour Party's position, which was in line with GLEN's position of advancing marriage or major progress towards that goal. This was major progress towards that goal.

2007, February. Labour Party Civil Unions Bill was debated in the Dáil (main chamber of the Irish parliament) but defeated by the then Government.

2007, June. Following general election, GLEN lobbied all political parties to include a commitment to implement Colley report options in programme for government. Commitment was included in programme for government agreed by Fianna Fáil and Green Party to legislate for civil partnership.

2008, June. GLEN deliver briefing on legal recognition of same-sex couples to politicians from all political parties in the briefing room in Leinster House.

2008, June. ‘Heads of Bill' or general outline of proposed civil partnership legislation was published by the Minister for Justice. GLEN welcomed the closeness of the civil partnership to civil marriage (a major shift from earlier proposals for limited civil partnership) but highlighted the lack of recognition in the proposed bill of children being parented by same-sex couples.

2008, June. Following the publication of the "Heads of Bill" there was a move by a group within the Fianna Fáil party to reverse the government commitment to civil partnership. After an extensive campaign by GLEN, including positive engagement with members of the party, this move did not succeed.

2009, June. The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act was published by the Minister for Justice and launched in the offices of GLEN by John Gormley, leader of the Green Party and Minister for the Environment and Local Government. The view of the Green Party, which supports civil marriage for same-sex couples, was that civil partnership was a radical step forward. GLEN published Civil Partnership: Your Questions Answered, a detailed analysis of the Bill by Dr Fergus Ryan

2010, July. The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act was passed with the support of all parties in the Irish parliament. It passed without a vote in the Dáil (first chamber) and was passed by 48 to 4 in the Seanad (second chamber).

2010, July. The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act was signed into law by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

2010 July. GLEN published the Dáil Debates on Civil Partnership and the Seanad Debates on Civil Partnership.. The publication on the Seanad speeches was launched by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform at an event attended by politicians from all political parties.

2010, December. In line with GLEN's submission, the Law Reform Commission recommended the extension of legal guardianship of children to civil partners in its Report on Legal Aspects of Family Relationships.

2010, December. The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act was commenced by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform at a GLEN reception.

2011 1st January. Civil Partnership Act takes effect. First couple recognised on 11th January for immigration purposes.

2011 March New Programme for Government commits to complete tax aspects of Civil Partnership and to addressing any omissions, especially those relating to children

2011 April First public civil partnership to very widespread positive coverage across the media

2011 July Dáil and Seanad pass Finance (No. 3) Act introduced by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan which treats civil partners the same as married couples in the tax codes. Minister for Justice Alan Shatter amends citizenship provisions to provide equality for civil partners.

2012 Spring Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis supports marriage for lesbian and gay couples, joining Labour, Sinn Fein and the Green Party in supporting moves to marriage. Fine Gael Ard Fheis passes motions to prioritise marriage in the Constitutional Convention.

2012 October Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announces he will bring forward a bill with comprehensive parenting reforms for lesbian and gay families

2012 December Chief Justice of Ireland launches guides to Civil Partnership in the Four Courts.

2013 April GLEN make written and oral presentations to the constitution convention on same-sex marriage. The convention voted for the constitution to be changed to allow for civil marriage for lesbian and gay couples (79% in favour) and for the laws in regard to parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children to be appropriately amended (81%) in favour

2013 July 1,088 civil partnerships have taken place across Ireland