The draft law to give effect to the result of the marriage equality referendum was before the Seanad too. Averil welcomed it, as below.

Senator Averil Power: “I have never been more proud to be Irish than I was on 23 May, when Ireland became the first country in the world to bring in marriage equality by popular vote. Not only did we vote “Yes” but we did so by an incredible margin. Young and old, urban and rural, we united to send a message of love and support to our LGBT friends, family members, colleagues and neighbours. Each and every one of the 1.2 million “Yes” votes made a powerful statement. It told young LGBT people that the road ahead of them is a bright one, paved with the same hopes, dreams and opportunities as everyone else’s. It told older LGBT people we are sorry for all the discrimination, isolation and pain they have had to go through and we are determined to bring it to an end. It told the world that the Irish people are warm, caring and fair.

It is often said that Ireland changed for the better on 22 May. I think it had changed many years before and that voting in the referendum simply gave us an opportunity to voice that change. The “Yes” vote recognised that happy families come in different shapes and sizes. In doing so it rejected discrimination, not just against LGBT families but also against single parents, divorcees, adopted people and many other so-called non-traditional family groups. The “Yes” vote meant as much to many of those groups as it did to our lesbian and gay citizens. The joy and pride the result instilled in so many people gay and straight was phenomenal. None of this would have been possible without the leadership and determination of groups such as Marriage Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, GLEN, who campaigned for years to get a referendum and to make sure we won it.

I acknowledge the presence in the Visitors Gallery of Gráinne Healy and Moninne Griffith from Marriage Equality, Brian Sheehan from GLEN, who are three of the main leaders of that campaign. I recognise most of the faces in the gallery and could name them all but I would have no time.”


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