A commission charged with reforming the Irish constitution on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a recommendation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Seventy-nine percent of the Constitutional Convention’s 100 members supported the recommendation to amend the country’s constitution on which they voted at the end of a two day meeting at a Dublin hotel.
Eighty-one percent of them also recommended the government expand adoption and other rights to gay and lesbian couples and protections to their children that are not included under the country’s civil partnership law that took effect in 2011.
“We are delighted with today’s result at the Constitutional Convention on the issue of same-sex marriage,” Marriage Equality Director Moninne Griffith said in a statement. Her group worked with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to urge commission members to support the issue. “This proves that Ireland is ready for equality for same-sex couples and wants equal access to civil marriage for loving committed lesbian and gay couples.”
The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, which argued against same-sex marriage alongside the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Order of the Knights of Columbanus, criticized the vote.
“While the result of the Constitutional Convention is disappointing, only the people of Ireland can amend the constitution,” a spokesperson told the Irish Times. “The Catholic Church will continue to promote and seek protection for the uniqueness of marriage between a woman and a man, the nature of which best serves children and our society.”
The convention’s recommendation comes 20 years after the Irish government decriminalized homosexuality.
Ireland in 1996 began to grant asylum to refugees on grounds they suffered anti-gay persecution in their countries of origin. Laws that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and public accommodation took effect in 1998 and 2000 respectively.