Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lesbian Marriage Case Starts in Ireland

(Link) Together more than 20 years, a couple starts their fight for marriage rights. If you want government attention, a lawyer at the tax office works better than shouting in the streets.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:

A landmark case calling for full gay marriage rights in Ireland began its slow process through the courts Monday.

The case, brought by lesbian couple Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan, was adjourned for a week by the Irish High Court, with a hearing date yet to be established.

Zappone and Gilligan have been a couple for more than 20 years and were married in Canada in 2003, where same-sex marriage is legal.

They are suing Ireland's tax service because it refuses to acknowledge them as a married couple, although the outcome of the case will have further-reaching impacts across marriage as an institution.

Mr. Justice McKechnie noted the importance of the case in the High Court, saying the couple's case transcended the issue of tax.

Same-sex couples have no legal recognition in Ireland, although senior government officials have recently called for a similar system to the U.K.'s civil partnership register.

A report last month by Ireland's Equality Authority said the situation between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland needed to be equalized.

Northern Ireland received civil partnerships along with the rest of the United Kingdom in December.

"There's a significant lack of equivalents in relation to civil partnership and partnership rights for gay people," said Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority.

"There's also a significant lack of equivalents to transsexual people and a legal recognition for them in their gender identity of choice," Crowley said. "Clearly we need to look at those areas and introduce legislation to build equivalents."

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said in January that he would back legal recognition of same-sex couples.

However, he rejected the idea of full same-sex marriage, warning that the option could slow the recognition on offer to couples.

"I would rather do the things that I think I can usefully do," he said. "Perhaps on other days, people can do other things."

Zappone and Gilligan are also suing for damages in their case, which some legal observers believe could lead to full same-sex marriage in Ireland.

Currently, only Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands allow full same-sex marriage, although some other countries offer legal recognition for lesbian and gay couples.