Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ireland's Civil Partnership Bill

We have to keep on talking, and writing, about the ‘Civil Partnership Bill 2009’
Maybe it may now be called the ‘Civil Partnership Bill 2010’, or the ‘Civil Partnership and Co-habitants’ Bill 2010’, or ….

There are so many amendments to, additions to, and deletions from this Bill that one wonders what the final title will be. We hope, however, that it may never finally see the light of day.

Mr. Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (that’s his title) is concerned that a suggestion that ‘mediation’ prior to dissolution of a ‘Civil Partnership’ be offered to homosexuals and lesbians might tend to appear to equate marriage with civil partnerships – which of course is exactly what this Bill will do.
Provision is to be made in all relevant legislation to enable civil partners to be granted the same tax and social welfare privileges as married people enjoy.
In the debate on the Bill, a government deputy actually queried the wisdom of replacing ‘marital status’ with ‘civil status’ in all relevant or related legislation, his reason being that: ‘If we want to re-assure people that marriage is not being down-graded’, the term ‘marital status’ should be retained. I am not aware that this deputy’s concerns were noted. Yes, ‘marital status’ will be deleted from all relevant legislation – going back over many years – to be replaced by ‘civil status’. And some people still think that marriage is not being equated with homosexual and lesbian partnerships?

Then there is the question of ‘co-habitants’ – I wonder how many of them realise that they will be required legally to ‘opt out’ of the legal status into which they will automatically be incorporated under the terms of the Bill? Think of the lawyers’ fees that may be involved!

Another interesting thing – a small number of pro-family groups requested permission to address the Select Committee that is at present debating the Bill. The Committee chairman, however, said that the Committee members
‘do not have time to meet these groups before proceeding with our deliberation of the Bill.’

A substantial number of individuals and pro-life/pro-family groups sent in submissions to the Committee, but it is not known if these were even read.