by Rex Wockner
The lower house of Ireland’s parliament passed a civil-partnership bill for same-sex couples July 1. It is expected to pass the upper house easily and take effect early next year.
The law will extend marriage rights and obligations in areas such as taxes, pensions, property, tenancy, inheritance, alimony, immigration and social benefits.
Couples will unite before a registrar after providing three months’ advance notice of their intention, as with marriage.
To end a partnership, a couple will go to court and prove they’ve not lived together for two of the previous three years, the same as with marriage.
The law also will recognize foreign same-sex unions.
Activists welcomed the “historic advance” but said it fell short of equality. There is no provision, for example, to acknowledge joint parenthood.
“A continuing area of concern … is the absence in the bill of support and recognition of the many children being parented by same-sex couples,” said Kieran Rose, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. “This critical omission will have to be addressed.”