Same-sex civil partners to be able to wed with five days’ notice

1,500 couples have availed of civil partnerships since they became available in 2011

Brian Sheehan, director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said he expected many of these may now avail of the new provision. Photograph: Eric Luke.

Brian Sheehan, director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said he expected many of these may now avail of the new provision. Photograph: Eric Luke.

 

Same-sex couples will be able to convert their civil partnerships into marriage by giving authorities five days’ notice under legislation due to come into force shortly.

While homosexual couples intending to marry will need to give three months’ notice – in the same way as opposite-sex couples must – a fast-track civil partnership provision will apply under the Marriage Bill 2015.

About 1,500 homosexual couples have entered into legally binding civil partnerships since they became available in April 2011.

Brian Sheehan, director of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said he expected many of these may now avail of the new provision.

“This is a major improvement that will be widely welcomed by civil partners anxiously waiting to marry, and finally be treated equally,” he said.

“We are delighted to see this and other issues we raised included in the final Bill, such as the legal right to accept your partner as ‘husband, wife or spouse’, and a lower fee for civil partners to marry,” said Mr Sheehan, who was a co-director of the Yes Equality campaign.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the civil partnership amendment aimed to reduce any unnecessary administrative burden on civil partners wishing to marry. She estimates that the first same-sex marriages will take place by mid-November.

Legislation paving the way for same-sex marriage passed all stages in the Oireachtas last week and will now go to President Michael D Higgins for signing.

Áras an Uachtaráin said the President has no choice but to sign the marriage amendment into the Constitution, despite the Supreme Court not having heard appeals against the referendum outcome.

The Supreme Court last month rejected two attempts to appeal the outcome, but noted the issue was moot anyway because the amendment had already been written into the Constitution.

The Department of the Environment and the Master of the High Court also said they acted in line with their legal obligations.