Home > Fine Gael, LGBT > Young Fine Gael votes in support of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry

Young Fine Gael votes in support of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry

This time last year, at the Young Fine Gael Summer School, I proposed the motion, “This Summer School supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry”. It was defeated, two votes short of a majority. Yesterday, now as YFG Director of Policy, I proposed the same motion, and it passed overwhelmingly with, I think, two votes against. This is what I said in the two minutes I had to speak,

Those of you at summer school last year, or I’ve talked to since or last night on this, know this is important to me.

For me, this is fundamentally about the hope I might settle down one day into happily married life, hopefully in a lifelong relationship. The same reasons anyone wants to marry.

Studies on this, and just plain common sense, will tell you those who are married in committed relationships live longer, healthier and happier lives. Of course having a constant, loving companion can be such a comfort in life, there for each other, for better for worse, in sickness and in health.

In voting in favour, you simply acknowledge the care and love a couple show each other should be recognised in a way they believe best reflects their commitment.

We’re now ten years since gay couples in a growing number of places around the world first had the opportunity to marry. How could allowing more people commit to each other send anything but a positive message about the value of marriage?

As to children, don’t forget there are currently children in Ireland being raised by gay couples; it would give them too added security and protection if their parents could marry, such as in a situation if anything was to happen to their birth parent, where under current law their other parent would currently be treated as a stranger.

There is civil partnership. But these beneficial effects have so much a firmer backing with the authority and tradition of marriage. Further, justice requires conditions of people’s lives determined by government be provided equally for all.

This has proved successful in other countries; it will enhance the comfort and security of gay couples, it will make gay children and teenagers growing up in Ireland feel more included in society; it will provide Constitutional support as well to children being raised by gay couples, and it will give peace of mind to the parents and wider family of gay people. With all this, I really think there is no social benefit in preventing me and others from marrying.

Thank you.

It was followed by an excellent speech from Maeve Howe, chair of Dublin South-East YFG, who stressed that this is a human rights issue, not an LGBT issue, and then by an informed discussion from the floor. It was also supported earlier in the day in an address from local TD Seán Kyne, who picked the motion out as one we should support.

There were other motions this weekend which I was proud of, which I will summarize tomorrow. There have been some great moments since I became active in the party in autumn 2009. But the support the motion received yesterday, such a reversal in twelve months, was one of the most satisfying for me at a very personal level, and something I was proud to play a part in.

Here below is a list of all motions in the general policy section of Summer School:

  1. This Summer School calls for the development of a viable nuclear power option for Ireland. – Defeated
  2. This Summer School calls for the removal of the offence of blasphemy as it is contrary to the ethos of free speech and assembly, which every modern republic should strive for. – Carried
  3. This Summer School calls for the privatisation of CIÉ. – Defeated
  4. This Summer School calls for newly trained teachers to be given priority for substitution over retired teachers. – Carried
  5. This Summer School calls on the Government to lower the corporation tax rate to 8.2%, bringing it in line with the average effective rate of corporation tax in France. – Defeated
  6. This Summer School calls on the Government to suspend Overseas Development Aid for the duration of EU/IMF programme. – Defeated
  7. This Summer School supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. – Carried
  8. This Summer School calls on the Government to exempt renewable energy from budget cuts. –Carried
  9. This Summer School opposes changing Sunday pay arrangements in Joint Labour Committee agreements. – Defeated
  10. This Summer School calls for the introduction of compulsory Information Technology modules to Junior Certificate and Transition Year as well as the introduction of a full Information and Communication Technology subject at Leaving Certificate. – Carried
  11. This Summer School calls for a cap on public sector pensions of €50,000 a year. – Defeated
  1. Eoin
    16 July, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I have the singular honour of knowing William personally, but, it should be noted that a) I am not a natural Fine Gael supporter nor b) do I necessarily agree with him on a great many issues, politically.

    However, he is due much credit for the erudtion, sincerity and sheer clarity he demonstrates in his proposition, above. It is truly heartening to see a young man marshall strong arguments in defence of a (frequently unpopular) minority and in favour of meaningful equality for ALL Irish citizens.

    It is easy to take a strong stand on issues once one knows that public and political opinion concurs (witnesss the sudden, ‘spontaneous’ backlash against News International in the UK following near-universal revulsion in relation to the hacking of crime victims and their families). It is another thing, altogether, to have the courage and bloody-mindedness to take a strong stand on issues where public opinion is divided and where there is no immediate, visible dividend.

    I still won’t be likely voting for Fine Gael, but I am proud to know that there is a young and upcoming cohort of Fine-Gaelers who are prepared to stick their necks out for justice and fairness – this is something which should transcend party-political lines, so credit where it is due and thank you, William, for having the courage to speak out and lead in this regard.

    PS. For those who would like to see an interesting argument made for gay equality from a moderate right-wing perspective; the relatively recent debate, hosted by the Cato Institute, in the U.S., featuring Nick Herbert, Andrew Sullivan and Maggie Gallagher, is fascinating viewing.

    Please see:



    • William
      19 July, 2011 at 1:04 am

      Thank you for those comments Eoin.

      Another good video from Cato on this is an event they had recently with the co-chairs of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and the two principal lawyers in the case to overturn Prop 8, outlining their arguments and the progress of the case to date http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=8015

  2. Eoin
    16 July, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    PS. To my knowledge Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were the only two notable parties that were unrepresented from the recent Dublin Pride celebrations – I would be fascinated to hear the justification from both, for their absence.

  1. 22 February, 2012 at 12:56 pm
  2. 5 March, 2012 at 9:45 am
  3. 28 April, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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