Archive for the 'LGBT' Category

Marriage Referendum: Thank you for your support

Canvassing at Castleknock Train Station

Canvassing at Castleknock Train Station

A huge thanks to everyone in Dublin West and across the country who helped secure the Yes vote in the marriage referendum on Saturday.

I was particularly proud of the fact that the 70.6% Yes vote in our constituency was the 8th highest in the country. This was boosted by the thousands of people who joined the electoral register for the first time.

I spent most of the campaign working with the Dublin West Yes Equality group, which I coordinated with TJ Clare. It was a hugely gratifying experience to see so many people, young and old, gay and straight, many of whom had no previous experience with politics, come together and work for such an important cause. I also want to thank those local political representatives who supported our campaign and canvassed with us.

It was a privilege to be able to stand in Dublin Castle and here the official result be announced. It was a day that I will never forget.

The Yes Equality national bus tour in the Blanchardstown Town Centre

The Yes Equality national bus tour in the Blanchardstown Town Centre

Dublin West Yes Equality celebrating in the count centre after tally shows huge Yes vote in our constituency.

Dublin West Yes Equality celebrating in the count centre after tally shows huge Yes vote in our constituency.

Equality

I’m a firm supporter in full marriage equality for same-sex couples. While I’m proud of the work the Green Party did in passing the Civil Partnership bill during our time in government, I firmly believe that civil partnership is only a step towards the full, equal treatment that LGBT Irish people fully deserve. This can only be achieved through full same-sex marriage equality.

Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes first Civil Partnership ceremonies

 

11/04/11

Green Party Dublin West representative, Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed the first civil partnership ceremonies celebrated in Ireland.

“I want to offer my congratulations to Hugh Walsh and Barry Dignam who celebrated the first civil partnership in Ireland last Tuesday. It is a hugely important occasion for them but also for all gay and lesbian couples in the country. Civil partnerships convey official state recognition on same-sex relationships for the first time, along with providing a range of important protections in areas such as taxation, inheritance, the family home and social welfare”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“As the legal advisor to the Green Party on the issue of civil partnerships, I am very proud of the role we played in ensuring that the last government fulfilled its promise to legislate for same sex relationships. While full marriage equality remains the goal of the Green Party, civil partnerships are an important first step in this direction”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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Start of Civil Partnership process is major achievement of the Green Party in Government

 

Its fantastic to see the start of the process for the granting of civil partnerships in Ireland and the recognition of the first civil partnerships. This is an extremely important moment for the gay and lesbian community in Ireland. On Thursday, 13th January the first civil partnership were recognised under the civil partnership act. These are same-sex couples who had entered into marriages or unions in other countries, but are living here in Ireland. They will now receive recognition as civil partnerships under Irish law.

 The Minister for Justice has issued a statutory instrument, setting out 27 countries whose form of marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in Ireland.

 From the 4th January, Irish same-sex couples have the right to apply to become civil partners here. As there is a three month requirement for notice, we can expect the first ceremonies to start taking place in early April.

As legal advisor to the Green Party on this issue, I am hugely proud of our role in achieving a major step forward for civil rights in this country. Until now, Ireland was one of very few European countries which made absolutely no provision for recognising same-sex relationships. As a result of the Green Party’s actions in government, same-sex couples may now enter into civil partnerships, which offer protections across a range of areas like taxation, inheritance, domestic violence, pensions, social welfare and shared homes. They also bestow official state recognition on these relationships.

The Green Party remains committed to achieving full civil marriage equality for gay and lesbian citizens of our state. We believe that this is an issue which must be addressed by the next Government.

Civil Partnership proposals are a step in the right direction

Tuesday saw the publication of the heads of the Civil Partnership Bill. These were meant to be published by the end of March, but were delayed due to the changes in Cabinet and some disagreements between ourselves and Fianna Fail as to the content.

I’m pleased to see that the Government is moving to deliver on the commitment, contained within the Programme for Government, to legislate for civil partnerships. Within the Green Party, we believe that same-sex couples should have full access to civil marriage. As such, we would like to go further then these proposals. However, we see the Civil Partnership Bill as a step in the right direction, as it will give protection to persons currently in a relationship, and give recognition to these relationships.

The heads of the bill run to 172 pages, but briefly, the proposals on civil partnership would give same-sex couples who obtain a partnership the same rights as married couples in a wide range of areas such as tax, succession, pensions, social welfare, immigration and domestic violence. Civil partnerships would be formed in the same way as marriage, and would only be dissolved on the death of one of the partners or under a court order if the partners had been living apart for two of the previous three years and proper provision had been made for both partners.

I was disappointed that no provision was made for children’s rights within this legislation. However, this issue will have to be addressed in a wider reform of guardianship and custody laws, dealing with a wide range of issues including the rights of fathers, rights in relation to step-children etc. I understand that there is an acceptance within Government that there is a general need to address all these areas through reforming legislation.

I’m also pleasd to see that the bill provides a new redress scheme for both opposite and same-sex couples who are left in a financially vulnerable situation in the event that their relationship breaks down or one of the couple dies suddenly. This new redress scheme will allow the financially vulnerable person apply to the courts for a range of reliefs. Obviously, this would apply to persons not currently in a marriage or civil partnership.

Getting passed the spin – the Green Party position on civil partnerships

On Wednesday last, the Cabinet (including Green Party Ministers) made a historic decision and gave the go ahead for legislation to be drafted to provide for civil partnerships, on the basis of the recommendations contained in the Colley Report. The outline of this legislation will be seen before the end of March next year.

There’s been a lot of controversy over the last few days about the Green Party and our position on same-sex marriage/civil partnerships etc. I’m going to try and clear up some of the spin that’s been going around.

– In 2006, the Green Party passed a Marriage & Partnership Rights Policy, which I helped draft. It stated our belief full access to civil marriage for same-sex couples was the only way of achieving full equality. This continues to be Green Party policy – full equality will only be achieved when same-sex couples are allowed civil marriage.

– In 2007, we supported the Labour Party Civil Unions Bill. During the debate, our spokesperson, Ciaran Cuffe made the point that while we were supportive of the bill, we did not see the Labour Party proposals on civil unions as going far enough and that we supported full access to same-sex marriage. At the time, the then Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, spoke about creating protections for same-sex couples, but also for non-married heterosexual couples and indeed, for those living together in non-sexual relationships – two spinster brothers etc.

– McDowell set up a body of experts to look at the options for dealing with same-sex relationships – the Colley Group. In its report, the Colley Group made a number of recommendations including forms of full and partial civil partnership for same-sex couples.

– After the General Election, we entered negotiations with Fianna Fail. Our team, led by John Gormley, requested that the Programme for Government include a commitment to legislating for same-sex marriage. Fianna Fail flatly refused to do this.

– In light of this, John Gormley demanded that the Programme for Government include a commitment to legislate for civil partnerships. In light of this, the following was included in the Programme for Government “Taking account of the options paper prepared by the Colley Group and the pending Supreme Court case, we will legislate for Civil Partnerships at the earliest possible date in the lifetime of the Government”.

– During the summer, Green Party representatives were in negotiations with the Minister for Justice over how to proceed on the issue as quickly as possible.

– The Government’s ‘Legislative Programme’ for this year contained a proposal for a bill on Domestic Partnerships which would “provide for certain legal recognitions of persons (cohabitants, same-sex couples and others) in domestic relationships”. The bill falls within the responsibility of the Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan.

– Last week, it was announced that the Labour Party were reintroducing their Civil Unions bill.

The Green Party were unhappy with aspects of the proposed Domestic Partnerships bill. It was felt that it did not go far enough in achieving the commitment to legislating for Civil Partnerships in the Programme for Government. As a result of negotiations between the Green Party and the Dept Justice, it was agreed that the title of the bill would be changed to the Civil Partnership Bill. Further, the bill is to deal solely with creating civil partnerships for same-sex couples based on the options presented by the Colley Repo, along with a method by which same-sex or heterosexual couples in dependant relationships can seek redress in the event of their relationship breaking up or one party dying.

The Civil Partnership Bill will not be providing for a new registration scheme for heterosexual couples.

The Civil Partnership Bill will not result in a same-sex couples being treated the same as two brothers living together etc.

Minister Lenihan has committed to bringing the heads of this bill to Cabinet by the end of March next year. After this, a full bill will be laid before the Dail and will be passed in the lifetime of the current Government.

Minister Lenihan was concerned that the Labour Party bill was unconstitutional, and that it risked being struck down by the Supreme Court. If this had happened, the entire process of creating a bill would have to have been started again. There would have been a real possibility that the bill would not have been passed before the next General Election.

In light of his commitment to legislate for Civil Partnerships based on the Colley Report in the lifetime of this Dail, the Green Party voted with the Government against the Labour bill.
If we had voted against the Labour bill, it would have meant the end or our participation in government, and there would have been no pressure on Fianna Fail to legislate for civil partnerships.

As someone who, along with my partner, hopes to enjoy the benefits of a civil partnership, I’m very pleased with the progress that the Green Party has made on this issue. Fianna Fail has accepted the principle that gay and lesbian couples must be protected, and that this protection should be in line with what was proposed in the Colley Report.

Like Katherine Zappone and Anne-Louise Gilligan, I and the Green Party believe that true equality will only come when we are given full access to civil marriage. The bill being proposed by the Government won’t do this – neither would the Labour Party bill. However, what civil partnerships will allow for is protection of important aspects of our relationships, while we continue to fight for complete equality.

Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes commitment to legislate for civil partnerships

01/11/07

Green Party Dublin 15 representative, Roderic O’Gorman, has welcomed the commitment from the Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan, to bring forward the heads of a bill on civil partnerships for same-sex couples by March of next year.

“I warmly welcome this commitment from the Minister for Justice. Ensuring that civil partnerships for same-sex couples were created during the life time of this Dail was one of the key aspects of the Programme for Government that they Green Party secured. Not only have we persuaded Fianna Fail of the need to create civil partnerships for same-sex couples, but these civil partnerships will be based on the recommendations of the Colley Group, which was set up to outline the best ways of protecting gay and lesbian relationships”, stated Roderic O’Gorman

O’Gorman also praised the Labour Party for bringing forward a bill on civil unions in the Dail during the week.

“During the week the Dail debated a Labour Party bill dealing with the issue of civil unions. While there were many positive aspects to this bill, the Minister for Justice judged it to be at risk of being found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Had the Labour bill been passed and later, found unconstitutional, that would have set the entire process of achieving civil partnerships back by years. In light of this risk and the commitment by the Minister for Justice to rapidly bring forward legislation on civil partnerships, the Green Party voted against the Labour bill. We have received some criticism for doing this, but as someone who along with my partner, would hope to enjoy the benefits of civil partnerships as soon as possible, I would rather the Government acted cautiously and brought forward its own legislation that is not at risk of being struck down by the Supreme Court. I would view providing protection for same-sex couples as too important an issue to take chances with”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

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