Marriage for same-sex couples


Sir, – Bernard O’Grady’s letter (October 6th) claimed that “today many gay couples can now adopt or have children by other means; and through civil partnership they have all the legal rights (and obligations) of a married couple”. A number of important clarifications are required.

First, same sex couples are not eligible to adopt under the current law, which provides that only a married couple may adopt. This means that while a single gay person can apply and be assessed in the usual way, a couple cannot in fact adopt; and neither is second parent adoption possible as between a same-sex couple.

Second, there are well over 100 differences between marriage and civil partnership, all to the detriment of civil partnerships when compared with marriages. These are well documented in a comprehensive report by Marriage Equality entitled Missing Pieces which is freely available online. Thus, Mr O’Grady’s assertions are factually incorrect.

This raises two issues. The first is the fact that people remain so uninformed as to the inequality experienced by LGBT individuals and same-sex couples within the Irish legal framework. Civil partnership is an advance, but it is not equal to marriage and children raised within same-sex households are disadvantaged not by the sexual orientation of their parents but by the state’s failure to allow for legal bonds to be effectively created within the family. This – together with the basic belief that there is no objectively justifiable basis for differentiating between same and opposite sex couples – explains the campaign for marriage equality far more than any desire to, as Mr O’Grady put it, splash out “thousands on a fancy church wedding”.

The second question is why The Irish Times, which has on numerous occasions published findings about the inequality of civil partnership in comparison to marriage, would publish a letter that contains such clear factual inaccuracies. – Yours, etc,


Durham Law School,

Durham, England.