Speaking today (Saturday) at the Fine Gael LGBT AGM, Minister Brian Hayes TD, has stated that there is no such thing as partial equality and described his wish to legislate for marriage equality as a duty, not a choice.
“Over the past quarter of a century Ireland has changed enormously. Thankfully we now live in a more open and inclusive society. Fine Gael has led from the front on equality for gay people. In 2004 when I was Leader of the Fine Gael group in Seanad Éireann, my then colleague, Senator Sheila Terry authored a Fine Gael policy on Civil Partnership. We were the first political party in Ireland ever to do so.
“The Government has now committed to holding a referendum on marriage equality in 2015. While I was proud to be in the Dáil in 2010 when the Civil Partnership legislation was enacted, and knew it was a giant step forward for our country, it did not go far enough. There is no such thing as partial equality.
“I believe that I have a duty as a legislator to advocate for marriage equality. It is a duty, not a choice.
“I commend the Fine Gael LGBT group, and in particular my courageous colleague Jerry Buttimer TD, for their work towards achieving full equality for gay people in Ireland.
“The challenge for the LGBT community now is to persuade the middle ground to support the concept of marriage equality. In my experience, Irish people are cautious but they are also extremely kind and compassionate. They recognise that marriage is a tool to build strong family units that bind a society together, but that families come in all shapes in sizes. They recognise that two people who love each other should be allowed to make the ultimate commitment and reaffirm their love in the eyes of the state. As equal. Not as ‘almost equals’. That is why I am confident that the people of Ireland will support the marriage equality referendum next year.”