Great good doesn't often happen in the world, never mind in Ireland, but it did last night when Irish Justice Minister Ahern and the Irish government passed the Civil Partnership Bill.

Cards on the table: I'm gay and I'm speechless with delight that I will now be able to welcome my partner of thirteen years to the country of my birth to see our rights and entitlements protected by Irish law.

It's not full equality, it would be called marriage if it was, but it's the most persuasive step toward it that I've seen Ireland take in my lifetime.

I love Ireland like no other country on earth and I am moved, greatly moved, to see the men and women of my nation embrace the full reality of our lives and loves and of our real diversity openly and confidently.

And I look forward to the day when this happens, and it will happen, in the United States.

But let me tell you what this law will mean to the vulnerable gay kids growing up right now in isolation in Ireland. It will mean everything to them. It says to them you are equal, you can stand up, you're as welcome here as the next man or woman, this is your nation and it is your home.

And now, when the schoolyard bullies do their worst, those gay kids will know in their hearts that they're full citizens of their own country, that they're protected and acknowledged by the law, and that they don't have to take any shaming crap from anyone.

O brave new world that has such people in it.

There's nothing like equality to inspire people to stick up for themselves. This is a law that will put real pride into being Irish. In Ireland equality is starting to mean something real.

I'm speechless. Irish people usually either sing a song or weep and then sing a song at this point. I can't right now because my heart (mo chroi) is bursting.