10 November 2015
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, today signed the commencement order for the Marriage Act 2015. The Commencement Order will bring the provisions of the Marriage Act 2015 into effect from Monday 16 November 2015.
The commencement order gives effect to the will of the people, as expressed in the referendum on 22 May, that marriage should be available to same-sex couples.
At Dublin Castle this evening the Minister said, “The Irish people blazed a trail on 22 May 2015 when they became the first sovereign people to choose marriage equality by popular vote. They determined that Ireland should be characterised by solidarity and inclusiveness. They have reaffirmed the importance of marriage and family for our society.”
From Monday 16 November, same-sex couples, including couples who are already in civil partnerships, will be able to give notice of their intention to marry.
Signing the Order, the Minister added, “It is a real pleasure to sign this Order in the company of some of the couples who will be able to marry in the coming weeks and months. The Marriage Act has profound symbolic importance, but will also have a real and tangible impact on their family life.”
Note for editors:
On commencement of the Marriage Act 2015:
· Registrars will be able to register the marriages of same-sex couples with effect from 16 November;
· The impediment preventing a marriage between two persons of the same sex will be removed;
· Civil partners will be able to marry one another (they will be able to give notice from 16 November onwards);
· Marriages between same-sex couples contracted lawfully in other jurisdictions in other jurisdictions will be recognised automatically as marriages in Ireland;
· A couple who have given notice of their intention to register a civil partnership will be able to convert this into a notification of their intention to marry;
· There can be no new notification of intention to register a civil partnership;
· Couples who have already given notice of their intention to register a civil partnership and have completed their civil partnership registration form will have until 15 May 2016 to go ahead and register their civil partnership;
· Couples can take one another either as husband, wife or spouse, as the case may be in the civil marriage ceremony;
· The other legislative changes set out in the Act will take effect.
Marriage Act 2015
Questions and Answers
When can the first marriage of a same-sex couple take place?
The commencement order sets 16 November as the date on which the Marriage Act 2015 comes into effect. A marriage can take place between two persons of the same sex from that date onwards.
I am in a civil partnership and wish to marry. What do I have to do?
A civilly partnered couple who wish to marry should contact the registrar who will guide them through the process. If the couple registered their civil partnership in Ireland, they will not have to give three months’ notice. If the couple registered their civil partnership outside Ireland, they will have to give the same notice period of three months as all other couples wishing to marry.
We have notified the registrar of our intention to enter a civil partnership. We wish to change this into a notification of our intention to marry. How should we go about this?
The registrar is contacting couples who have already given notice of their intention to enter a civil partnership to inform them that they can convert this into a notification of their intention to marry. If the registrar has not already been in contact, such couples should contact the registrar to confirm that they wish to marry. The registrar will then guide them through the process. They can use the date originally planned for their civil partnership for their marriage instead.
We have notified the registrar of our intention to enter a civil partnership. We wish to go ahead with our civil partnership. Will we be able to do so?
Yes. Couples who have already notified the registrar before 16 November of their intention to enter a civil partnership will be able to go ahead and register a civil partnership, provided they complete the civil partnership registration form before the end of this week. They may then proceed to enter a civil partnership within the six-month period of validity of the form.
Will it be possible for couples to notify their intention to enter civil partnership after 16 November?
No. Civil partnership will be closed to new entrants. Couples will have to have completed their civil partnership registration form before 16 November.
Will marriages contracted in other jurisdictions be recognised automatically? Do I have to do anything?
If a marriage was contracted lawfully between two persons in another jurisdiction, that marriage will be recognised automatically in Ireland as of 16 November. The couple do not need to take any further action.
I am in a civil partnership and wish to remain as a civil partner. Can I do so?
Yes. There is no obligation on any civilly partnered couple to marry. They can continue as civil partners. Their rights and obligations will not be affected by the Marriage Act 2015.
Will churches be forced to perform marriages between same-sex couples?
No. The Marriage Act 2015 explicitly states that neither it nor any other enactment will compel a religious body to recognise a particular form of marriage ceremony. The religious body will have the choice itself on whether to marry same-sex couples or not to marry them.
What sort of vows can be made by a same-sex couple?
Any couple marrying in a civil ceremony will be able to take one another as husband, wife or spouse, as the case may be. Religious bodies will be able to retain their existing declarations whereby a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife. They will also be free to adopt the new declarations if they wish.
Will any impediments remain in place?
The same impediments will operate for same-sex couples as for opposite-sex couples but modified to take account of the sex of the parties. A couple cannot marry if within certain prohibited degree of relationship. These relate to relationships of consanguinity where a couple are related by blood such as an uncle and a niece or nephew. They also relate to relationships of affinity, where a couple are related by marriage. A step-father cannot marry a step-child, for instance.
What is the situation concerning civil partners who entered a registered partnership abroad (i.e. a relationship prescribed under a section 5 order as equivalent to civil partnership)?
A same-sex couple who enter a registered partnership by 15 May 2016 in another jurisdiction will be recognised as civil partners in Ireland. A partnership registered from 16 May 2016 onwards will not be recognised as a civil partnership in Ireland.