Ireland will hold referendum on same-sex marriage


A special convention set up to reform the Irish constitution has recommended that same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage under the law.

The convention voted 79 percent in favor of full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples today. A referendum must be held to approve the change.

Gay and Lesbian Network director Brian Sheehan described the convention’s vote as “a major milestone on the remarkable journey” toward full equality.

The convention was established by the Fine-Gael-Labour coalition to secularize much of the Irish constitution, which has given the Roman Catholic Church inordinate power and influence in Ireland’s government since its foundation. In recent years, revelations of horrendous scandals involving the church have undermined its influence on the nation.

For instance, the church imprisoned as many as 30,000 women for 74 years at a commercial laundry, where they were forced to work without pay as slave laborers. Half of the women were under 23 and some as young as 9 years old. They were enslaved for infractions as minor as not paying for a train ticket.

From the mid-1920s until the early 1970s thousands of Irish children officially in the care of the state were placed in industrial schools and orphanages where they were routinely abused sexually, starved and forced to perform hard labor without pay.

Clerical sexual abuse of children in Ireland is considered more savage and widespread than in perhaps any other nation.