Gilmore: The time has come to recognise gay marriage
on 02/07/2012 00:00:00
Speaking in Dublin, Mr Gilmore congratulated the organisers of Dublin Pride 2012 for a successful week.
"I don't believe for example, that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgement on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with," he said.
"I believe in gay marriage. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, its time has come."
The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network welcomed Mr Gilmore's comments. Chairman Kieran Rose said: "To move to marriage now and provide full constitutional equality for lesbian and gay people is not a massive legislative leap; it is an incremental step building on the success of our civil partnership legislation"
The Tánaiste said recent polls had showed 73% of the public supported the idea of civil marriage for same-sex couples.
Mr Gilmore also suggested it was time to distance the State from the Church, especially when it came to school patronage.
He made the varied comments during a speech on personal freedom at the Tom Johnson Summer School in Kilkenny over the weekend.
He said he disagreed with claims that Labour was "anti-religious", adding: "I couldn't disagree more. At the heart of our political philosophy is personal freedom, which includes freedom of thought and freedom of religion. And by freedom of religion, I also mean the freedom to have no religion at all."
However, Mr Gilmore praised the work done by missionaries in Africa and "done by many people of faith".
He said modern Ireland was still dealing with the legacy of "the special relationship" between Church and State, from "our Constitution to the provision of public services in health and education".
"And there are other issues which, I believe, will challenge us to reassess the interconnectedness of the views of one Church, with the laws of the country.
"The referendum on children's rights, to take place later this year, is one. Stem cell research is another."