Bill about ‘equal marriage’ not ‘gay marriage’, says Leo Varadkar

Frances Fitzgerald asks why marriage should be for some and not for others

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: the Bill allowed gay men and women, for the first time, to be equal citizens in their own country. “No exceptions, no caveats, no conditions,” he added. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: the Bill allowed gay men and women, for the first time, to be equal citizens in their own country. “No exceptions, no caveats, no conditions,” he added. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 
Frances Fitzgerald

“I simply ask what right do we have to say to some couples that they cannot participate in an institution that is the bedrock for many Irish people,” she added.

“I also ask what right do we have to say to taxpayers, neighbours, citizens, that they can live among us but cannot share in all that many hold dear.”

Ms Fitzgerald said if the Irish people valued marriage as significantly as they did, “then we should be ready to share it with all who wish to avail of it”.

The Minister was introducing the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015, paving the way for the marriage equality referendum. It is receiving all-party support.

She said it was, in fact, a tribute to the importance of marriage, as the expression of a couple’s commitment to one another, that same-sex couples wished to be able to marry.

Translation

Ms Fitzgerald said that while the Oireachtas translation service was confident concerns about the Irish wording of the amendment were unfounded, the Government considered it important voters had absolute confidence in it. The Bill would be amended to include a more literal translation of the English wording.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the Bill was not about “gay marriage” but about “equal marriage”.

He said the Bill allowed gay men and women, for the first time, to be equal citizens in their own country. “No exceptions, no caveats, no conditions,” he added. “Just equal.”

The Minister said the Bill was not an act of generosity to a minority.

“Rather, it is an act of leadership by the majority,” he added. “It is a recognition that the majority does not become superior by making another group feel inferior.”

Diversity Fianna Fá

il justice spokesman Niall Collins said the legislation represented another step forward for equality in Ireland.

“For my party, the forthcoming referendum is a matter of equality,” he added.

Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said: “Some day, I hope, Ireland will stand as a beacon of LGBT equality and that we will treasure, protect and celebrate diversity of all of our citizens.”