Ireland’s constitutional convention has voted overwhelmingly in favor of amending the country’s constitution to legalize gay marriage.
The 100 convention members casted their historic votes earlier today (14 April) in Dublin with 79 voting in favor of marriage equality, reported the Irish Times.
78 members voted for a directive amendment - ‘the State shall enact laws providing for same-sex marriage’.
Members also recommended the Irish government pass laws ‘incorporating changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children’.
The convention, which was set up by the Fine-Gael-Labor coalition last year, aims to secularize much of the Irish constitution.
Convention members include politicians from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as well as members of the public.
The vote follows yesterday’s hearing by the convention of well over 1000 submissions on marriage equality by human rights groups, legal professionals, members of the public and faith groups.
Irleand’s government must now hold a full debate on the issue within four months.
The vote represents advance for the equality campaign of LGBT people in Ireland, and comes two years after the country legalized civil partnership.
Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore welcomed the vote as a sign of progress, saying: ‘I have always believed that our laws reflect the past, not the future on this issue.
‘It’s not the role of the State to pass judgment on who a person falls in love with, or who they want to spend their life with’.
Rights groups welcomed the convention’s backing of marriage equality, reported RTE News.
Moninne Griffith, director of Marriage Equality said the vote proved that ‘Ireland is ready for equality for same-sex couples and wants equal access to civil marriage for loving committed gay and lesbian couples’.
The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network director Brian Sheehan hailed the vote as historic and said it is ‘a major milestone on the remarkable journey’ towards full equality.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties director Mark Kelly said the vote result was a landmark moment in the human rights history of Ireland, sending a clear message to government to remove one ‘of the last bastions of official discrimination in Ireland’.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Church told RTE news: ‘While the result of the Constitutional Convention is disappointing only the people of Ireland can amend the Constitution.
‘The Catholic Church will continue to promote and see protection for the uniqueness of marriage between a woman and a man, the nature of which best serves children and our society’.
Meanwhile, the Catholic lobby group The Iona Institute accused the convention of 'overlooking' the 'rights' of religious organisations.