Rally calls for gay marriage rights not in proposed Bill


SAME SEX marriage rights, not civil partnership was the call to the Government by over 600 members of the gay and lesbian community and their supporters at a rally held in Dublin city centre yesterday.

“The civil partnership Bill is an inferior piece of legislation which does not recognise families or give people the right to adopt their partner’s children,” said Eloise McInerney of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Noise, which organised the protest.

She told the crowd gathered at the Central Bank that partnership was a construct of the 1990s and had no place in 2009. “We don’t want crumbs from the master’s table, we want the whole cake. We want the wedding cake,” she said.

A civil partnership Bill is due before the Dáil shortly which will allow lesbian and gay couples to register with the State and avail of privileges in areas such as pensions, inheritance and tax.

The hard work done to bring the Bill to this stage was acknowledged by Alternative Miss Ireland organiser Rory O’Neill. However, he said equality was not a half measure.

“Either our relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships or they are not,” he told the rally.

“Our State asks of us all the responsibilities of citizenship. In return I expect the commensurate rights,” he said.

“Sometimes we gays are so happy we got this far, we don’t want to rock the boat. People are telling us that we should be happy sitting halfway up the bus. I am not happy sitting halfway up the bus.

“I want to sit at the front of the bus and if I feel like it I want to drive the bus,” he said.

Co-chair of Marriage Equality, Gráinne Healy , was also critical of the civil partnership Bill. She believed that politicians were nervous and out of sync with the public because research by Marriage Equality revealed that eight out of 10 Irish people believe gay people should have access to civil marriage.

She urged those gathered to join the “out to your TD campaign” by asking their local politician to push for the issue of gay marriage.

Her organisation will be flagging local and European candidates who were in favour of gay marriage, she said.

The positive impact which gay marriage would have on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teenagers was emphasised by Michael Barron, director of Belong To, an organisation which supports young people who are declaring their sexual orientation or “coming out”. Many of these young people are still bullied and taunted because of their sexuality.

“It would send a message to bullies and it would shift how society sees these young people every day,” he said.