A NATIONAL poll commissioned by a group campaigning for gay marriage has found that 62 per cent of respondents would vote Yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples.
The campaign group MarriagEquality said yesterday the poll results showed the public was ready to accept civil marriage for lesbians and gay men.
Government ministers have ruled out same-sex marriage on the basis that it would require a referendum which, they say, would be the subject of a deeply divisive public debate.
The poll was conducted by Lansdowne Market Research between October 15th and 30th, 2008. A national sample of 1,000 people over 15 years of age were interviewed.
A breakdown of the results shows that support is strongest among younger people and in urban areas. Women were more supportive at 68 per cent compared to 56 per cent of men.
There was slightly less support for same-sex couples being given the right to adopt. A total of 58 per cent of those under 50 believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt, falling to 33 per cent among the over-50s.
A total of 54 per cent believe the definition of the family unit in the Constitution should be changed to include same-sex families.
Gráinne Healy, co-chair of MarriagEquality, said the findings supported the group’s calls for the Government to recognise that equality includes the human and civil rights of lesbian women and gay men to marry.
“There are many different family types in Ireland, including lesbians and gay parents. The Irish public recognise this fact, with seven out of 10 believing that being raised in a loving home is the key determinant in ensuring that children are happy and well.”
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.
Officials say it will stop short of marriage and will not provide any right for same-sex couples to adopt. Groups such as MarriagEquality say this does not go far enough. Moninne Griffith, MarriagEquality’s co-ordinator, said it was within the Government’s power to legislate for civil marriage for same-sex couples.
“Until the Government acts, Ireland is infringing upon the rights of a section of Irish society. There is no time to waste; equality for all people on this island must become a reality,” she said.