Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Brody's Notes... One Of The First Legal Gay Civil Unions In Ireland Celebrated

Barry Dignam and Hugh Walsh
Photo Via The Irish Times
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) APR 5 | A Dublin, Ireland, gay couple became the public face of civil unions in the Irish State today when they were legally joined under the legislation passed last year that took effect on January 1st.
The legislation known as the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act of 2010, gives same-sex couples rights and responsibilities comparable to heteronormal civil marriages. There are also provisions that also provides rights for participants in long-term cohabiting relationships who have not entered into a civil partnership or marriage.
Barry Dignam and Hugh Walsh started going out nearly 17 years ago when open homosexuality was still illegal in the Irish Republic and both admitted that neither would have foreseen that their relationship as a couple would be legally recognised in their country.
In an interview with The Irish Times media group, Dignam said:
“We feel a certain amount of responsibility . . . that this is a big step which Ireland is taking and that we’re going to be a part of that.”
Dignam admitted that when the couple originally found out that they were to be the first gay couple who were to avail of the new regime without first seeking an exemption to do so, they did consider postponing the ceremony given the media attention that would inevitably follow.
“We did have an opportunity to move the date but we felt that we would have been cheating [gay] people who had been through an awful lot of hardship – those who had been ridiculed and even jailed in the past,” he said.
Dignam & Walsh are in favour of same-sex marriage, Dignam noting that:
“This change is a pretty sizeable change although it is a pity it’s not full marriage,” he said, adding that there are those in the gay community who believe strongly that civil partnership does not go far enough.
They are right as well. Anything which is not equality is not equal,” he said, but added that he does not believe, like some, that civil partnership should be boycotted and would see himself as an incrementalist.
Dignam told the Irish Times that he felt that most of his fellow citizens had been supportive of the couple's decision to enter into a civil partnership. As for the detractors, Dignam said that he hopes that “soon the people throwing stones will simply run out of targets"
Another provision of the Act, which specifies a three-month waiting period after notification of intent to a local registrar, was recognition of civil unions performed outside of the Irish republic which took effect on January 13th, 2011.
According to the Irish Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, there are estimates that there are up to 1,000 same-sex relationships from 27 overseas jurisdictions that could receive legal recognition in Ireland.