The Path to Marriage Equality in Ireland: A Case Study

The Path to Marriage Equality in Ireland: A Case Study

The path to Ireland's 2015 referendum to legalize same-sex marriage required forming a consensus among the LGBTQ community, bringing in technical expertise as well as lived experience, and forging a simple message that resonated with a large part of the electorate, a case study from Atlantic Philanthropies, which funded major LGBTQ organizations in Ireland between 2004 and 2012, finds. According to the report, The Path to Marriage Equality in Ireland: A Case Study (21 pages, PDF), a civil partnership law enacted in 2011 divided LGBTQ rights advocates between those who saw civil partnership as a necessary first step toward achieving full marriage equality and those who felt it could relegate gays and lesbians to second-class status for years. Both groups agreed, however, that a referendum was the only likely way to achieve marriage equality, and the government held a Constitutional Convention that included ordinary citizens, which voted to put the issue on the ballot. The pivotal factor, the report notes, may have been the testimony of children of gay and lesbian couples, whose status was not addressed in the civil partnership law. A political adviser and veteran of several referendum campaigns cautioned the "yes" campaign not to alienate voters in the "middle" or create such a negative atmosphere that many would not vote at all, and the campaign succeeded by focusing on equality and fairness for all and on registering young people to vote. 

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