Monday, April 15, 2013

Equality coming to Ireland?

It looks like marriage equality may be coming to Ireland:

Ireland is to hold a referendum on legalising gay marriage after a special convention set up to reform the Irish constitution recommended that same-sex couples in the republic be recognised in law.

The convention voted 79% in favour of full equality for same-sex marriage in Dublin on Sunday.

Under the Irish constitution any major constitutional change has to be ratified by the electorate.

While it requires a referendum, there have been strong majorities in favour of marriage equality for the last five years, and the public opposition of the Catholic church (which has destroyed its reputation by covering up for pedophiles) will only increase them.

Meanwhile the Irish constitutional convention process seems quite interesting: its basically a citizen's jury supplemented with MPs, meeting in public plenary sessions to debate a set of specific questions. While its recommendations are not binding, it has a high degree of democratic legitimacy. Meanwhile in New Zealand, our constitutional consideration is done by political appointees behind closed doors. Its recommendations will therefore be owned by (and in the interests of) politicians rather than the people. As one of the world's oldest functioning democracies, we can do better than this, and we should.