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Ireland to hold same-sex marriage referendum

Ireland will hold a referendum on same-sex marriage after the Convention on the Constitution [official website], voted [press release] Sunday to grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples. Article 46 of the Irish Constitution [text, PDF] provides that any major constitutional change must be ratified by the electorate. Presently, civil partnerships are recognized and afforded some rights under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 [text, PDF] but are not equal to civil marriage. Article 41 of the Irish Constitution "recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society, and as a moral institution possessing inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law," and guarantees its protection by the state, but these rights and protections are not extended to single parents, unmarried opposite-sex co-habiters, and same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue across the globe recently. Last week France's Senate voted in favor [JURIST report] of a same-sex marriage bill that would allow same-sex couples to wed and adopt children. The bill will return in May to the National Assembly for final approval, and could become law this summer. Earlier this month, Uruguay's Senate voted 23-8 [JURIST report] in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The bill creates one law covering marriage for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Last month the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Windsor [JURIST report], the second of two cases the court heard that week on same-sex marriage. In that argument, the court considered the validity of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive], a federal law that recognizes only opposite-sex marriages for federal benefits purposes, despite state law on the issue.

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