A liberal Catholic lay group has strongly supported calls for a Yes vote in the same-sex referendum next May.
We Are Church (Ireland) also said that adoption and surrogacy are not part of the referendum but will be dealt with in separate legislation.
The group added that its core leadership unanimously supports the proposed referendum on Marriage Equality in Irish Civil Law and believes “social justice requires that loving, committed relationships between two consenting adults should be treated equally by the Irish State, regardless of gender or sexual orientation”.
It continued: "Although civil partnership in Ireland was an significant step forward in relationship recognition for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people it did not provide them with the same responsibilities, obligations and status that marriage gives. There are important inequalities still remaining. These range from issues relating to the family home, finance, legal procedures and parent and child."
It further noted that the Constitution does not define marriage as between a man and a woman. Article 41.3.1 “states that ‘The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack’,” it said.
“It was the 2004 Civil Registration Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. But Irish Courts have consistently interpreted Article 41.3.1 as inferring that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Marriage, it said “is and has been a rapidly evolving institution”. In Ireland’s past it has included practices like arranged unions, payment of dowries and the legally recognised inferior status of women. Marriage was seen as primarily about the protection of property and wealth rather than based on the free loving assent between two human persons, it said.
It also noted that “the important issues of adoption and surrogacy are not part of this referendum. They are being addressed by separate legislation.”
"The proposed referendum will not redefine marriage but rather refine it to make it more inclusive and so enhance the meaning of marriage," said We are Church (Ireland) spokesman Brendan Butler.