Ireland grants rights to same-sex partnerships – well ahead of Congress!

Ireland has recognized the legal rights of same-sex couples for the first time in a civil partnership bill that gave people in long-term relationships many of the statutory rights of married couples.

But it stopped short of recognizing civil marriage. There are strong rights conferred to marriage under the constitution of the traditionally Catholic country, which was amended to lift a ban on divorce in 1995.

“This bill provides legal protection for cohabiting couples and is an important step, particularly for same-sex couples, whose relationships have not previously been given legal recognition by the state,” Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said in a statement.

The legislation provides a range of previously denied rights including maintenance obligations, protection of a shared home and succession. “Balance is achieved by maintaining material distinctions between civil partnership and marriage, in particular between the rights attaching to both, while at the same time reflecting the equality rights protected by the constitution,” Ahern said.

The legalized sale of contraceptives caused controversy upon its introduction in 1979 in Ireland, where abortion still remains illegal.

Which gives you a couple of snaps of life in the world outside of American baseball. Federal law rarely is distracted by the state-vs-feds crap we get to put up with in the U.S. as an excuse for reactionary behavior.

You can see how far backwards we can move – quick as a bunny – if you start giving up on essential civil rights. The anti-choice inquisition would reinstate laws against contraception as quickly as any other question involving choice over superstition.

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