Colin Farrell, star of "Minority Report" and "In Bruges," this week came out in favor of same sex marriage in Ireland ahead of the planned referendum in 2015. Farrell was the high profile best man at his brother Eamonn’s civil partnership in 2009 and has been a vocal supporter of equal rights for LGBT people.
Farrell’s public declaration of support comes a few short days after the launch of the ‘Yes Equality’ campaign in Ireland. ‘Yes Equality’ is undertaking a voter registration drive to get people, particularly young and disenfranchised Irish people, registered to vote before the November 25 deadline. A number of LGBT organizations, including BeLonGTo, MarriagEquality and GLEN, celebrated the launch of the pro-civil marriage campaign with the release of a campaign video.
Civil partnerships were first introduced in Ireland in 2011 to a mixed response from LGBT lobby groups. While many celebrated civil partnership as a stepping stone to civil marriage, others criticized the material differences and inequalities between partnership and marriage. The 2015 referendum has been in the pipeline for a number of years, with interest growing since the 2013 Constitutional Convention, which called for a referendum on the issue. Over the coming months and through next year it is expected that campaigning and lobbying by both the 'Yes' and 'No' sides will intensify.
A date has not yet been set for the referendum, but it is expected to take place in late spring or early summer. It is widely expected that the civil marriage referendum will be one of a host of referendums held arising from resolutions passed by the 2013 Constitutional Convention. Other such 2015 Irish referendums may deal with the minimum voting age, age of presidential candidates and the removal of blasphemy from the Irish Constitution.
According to early opinion polls the pro-marriage equality side is expected to win in a landslide victory, with recent polls closing in on 80% in favor. Despite this, referendums in Ireland always run closer to the bone than opinion polls suggest, with past examples such as the children’s referendum and the divorce referendum which were expected to pass with a large ‘Yes’ majority only squeaking through.
Marriage equality is supported by all of the main political parties in Ireland, including government parties Fine Gael and Labour, as well as Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein. So far Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin have backed the ‘Yes Equality’ campaign.