Same-sex marriage legislation to arrive early next Dáil term

Timetable follows Court of Appeal’s dismissal of challenges to referendum result

Crowds gathered in the courtyard at Dublin Castle, for the results of the same-sex marriage referendum. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Crowds gathered in the courtyard at Dublin Castle, for the results of the same-sex marriage referendum. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Legislation putting into effect the result of last May’s same-sex marriage referendum will be presented to the Dáil as early as possible in the next term, a Government spokesman has said.

The term will begin on September 22nd.

It follows Thursday’s dismissal by the Court of Appeal of two separate applications for permission to bring petitions challenging the result of the referendum. The court ruling means the returning officer can issue a certificate confirming the May 22nd poll result.

A stay on issuing the certificate had applied pending the ruling.

However, Gerry Walshe, an electrician from Lisdeen, Co Clare, and Maurice Lyons, a gardener from Callan, Co Kilkenny, who brought the unsuccessful actions challenging the referendum result, have 28 days from Thursday to challenge the dismissal in the Supreme Court on a point of law.

The Supreme Court would then decide whether such action had grounds and, if so, make a determination.

All systems go

In the meantime, it is all systems go towards the enactment of legislation, which may see the first legal same-sex marriage in the State before the end of the year, but most likely early in 2016.

The Marriage Bill 2015 will set out the provisions that will allow it be inserted into the Constitution as the 34th Amendment, that two persons may marry in accordance with law, without distinction as to their sex.

It will also remove current impediments in the Civil Registration Act 2004 that prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

The Bill will set out the transitional arrangements that will apply where civil partners wish to get married and outline final dates for registration of civil partnerships.

Put on hold

On May 25th, following the referendum result, Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald said she was anxious to have the legislation enacted.

Her intention was to have the marriage Bill enacted into law by the end of July.

It had to be put on hold when Mr Walshe and Mr Lyons initiated their court challenges.

The Bill will include a provision to enable couples to convert a notification of intention to enter a civil partnership into a notification of intention to marry.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “This means that couples who have already registered their intention to enter a civil partnership will be instead able to get married once the law is enacted on the basis of the same registration of intent.”

Once approved by the Cabinet, such legislation is expected to be dealt with speedily by both Houses of the Oireachtas, where there is all-party support for same-sex marriage.

The Bill will then go to President Michael D Higgins for signature into law.

Brian Sheehan, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, and co-director of the Yes Equality campaign, said he was aware of “an awful lot of people who are waiting to get married” under the new legislation.