Sunday, June 07, 2015

206.1 - Good News: Ireland approves same-sex marriage

Good News: Ireland approves same-sex marriage

Starting out, as we do whenever possible, we can say that on May 22, voters in Ireland chose to change their constitution, making Ireland the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.

The result was overwhelming: 62 percent in favor, only 38 percent against.

Ireland had had "civil partnerships" since 2010, but as often happens, those arrangements did not provide the full recognition, benefits, and protections afforded by marriage.

The main opposition came from the Catholic Church, which is still a political force in largely-Catholic Ireland. Even though Pope Francis has expressed a more sympathetic attitude towards homosexuals than previous pontiffs, that doesn't mean the church is easing its bigoted attitude toward same-sex marriage. In fact, in the wake of the vote the Vatican Secretary of State called the result "a defeat for humanity."

The church's stance is relevant here because with this vote, there is now renewed pressure on Italy. Italy is now the only country in western Europe that doesn't recognize either same-sex marriages or at least some form of civil unions. It is also the nation in western Europe with the largest Catholic population, amounting to 80% of the nation's residents, and the Church's influence remains strong.

On the other hand, the same - about the church's political influence - was said of Ireland. And as in Ireland, there are signs of change: A 2013 poll showed a heavy majority of Italians in favor of some sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples, and a 2014 poll found a majority accepting of same-sex marriage rights. What's more, even as the national government if Italy stumbles in the face of right-wing and church opposition, some localities, including Rome, have registered as "married" some same-sex couples who legally wed in other countries. Se we'll see what happens.

For the moment, it's another reason to say I'm proud to be, well, okay, part Irish. Because justice is always good news.

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