Marriage Equality (ME)
After the General Election in early 2011, the new Irish government committed to convening a group of experts with the purpose of reviewing “the provision of same-sex marriage.” Referred to as a Constitutional Convention, the convening was to take place in late-2011 or early 2012 with plans to report back to the government within one year with its recommendations on reform. While the Irish government introduced civil partnerships for same-sex couples in the summer of 2010, this arrangement still falls short of full equality with civil marriages, particularly in matters relating to children. Recognizing the opportunity to advocate for marriage equality throughout the process of the Convention, Marriage Equality (ME) requested funds to initiate an awareness-raising campaign to raise the visibility of same-sex couples and families in Ireland. ME will also work to inform elected representatives on the issue of discrimination same-sex couples face under the current Civil Partnership legislation. It has planned meetings with government representatives, publication of articles on same-sex marriage, and community engagement events.
The mission of human rights organization ME is to achieve equality for same-sex couples in Ireland through equal access to civil marriage.
Funds were used for a campaign to increase pressure on the government to recognize true equality for LGBT couples under the law. ME conducted a campaign called “Missing Pieces” – highlighting 169 concrete differences between the civil partnership and civil marriage. Through their “marriage audit,” the organization detailed the ways in which LGBT couples experience discrimination by not being allowed to marry, including not being able to adopt, receive housing relief grants, or register the partnership with a religious body. Working in alliance with other LGBT groups, Marriage Equality was able to disseminate the marriage audit both to traditional and new media outlets, as well as to public officials, members of the LGBT community, and the general public. As a result of this exposure, Marriage Equality has received “invitations to speak at several high-level briefings and information sessions organised by individuals representing ALL political parties in Ireland.” Marriage Equality has noticed an increase in requests for information by public officials, especially after it encouraged supporters to “come out” to their elected representatives by contacting them and asking them to support equality for LGBT constituents.
The timing of this campaign was particularly important, increasing public awareness and educating public officials in the run up to the Constitutional Convention scheduled for early 2012 to review the topic of same-sex marriage. In addition to raising visibility of the issue within society at large, Marriage Equality’s actions also provided the whole LGBT community a useful tool for continuing to demand marriage equality in the future.