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Ireland: Civil Unions Legislation

(Jan. 2, 2008) Article 41.3 of the Irish Constitution provides, "[t]he State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, upon which the Family is founded, and protect it against attack." (Ir. Const. 1937, art. 41.3, available at http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/index. asp?docID=243 (official source).) In 2003, the High Court of Ireland held that this provision did not permit the recognition of a same-sex marriage entered into in Canada in a case involving a claim for tax benefits. (Zappone and Anor v. Revenue Commissioners and Ors. [2006] 1 IEHC 404, available at http://www.courts.ie/80256F2B00356A6B/0/A4FE4E30EEF23925802572790040D30C
?Open&Highlight=0,zappone,~language_en~
(official source).) Since then, the refusal of the Irish government to recognize same-sex marriages and unions has been criticized by the Irish Human Rights Commission. In 2006, the opposition introduced a civil unions bill. The government postponed debate on the proposed law until after an election could be held. In February 2007, the government opposed the reintroduction of the bill on the grounds that it would be unconstitutional. However, on November 1, 2007, the government announced that it would introduce new legislation in 2008 to recognize the right of both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into civil unions. (Alexis Unkovic, Ireland Government Pledges Civil Unions Legislation, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST, Nov. 1, 2007, available at http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/11/ireland-government-pledges-civil-
unions.php
.)