Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny prepares to lock horns with the Catholic Church on same-sex marriage, an issue he has avoided taking a real stance on until now. He came out strongly in favor of a referendum on gay marriage on Tuesday, announcing that the Cabinet would put the question to the people by mid-2015.
It's his first public announcement that Kenny will back the campaign for marriage equality. “In respect of today’s decision I support that very strongly and will campaign for it when it comes,” he said, according to the Irish Times.
The Church responded quickly, indicating that it would oppose the referendum and commenting that any change to the nature of marriage would undermine a fundamental building block of society, reports the Independent.
Bishop Denis Nulty said, "The church will participate fully in the democratic debate leading up to the referendum and will seek with others to reaffirm the rational basis for holding that marriage should be reserved for the unique and complimentary relationship between a woman and a man from which the generation and upbringing of children is uniquely possible."
Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) chairman Kieran Rose said that its members of the network were "delighted" with the decision to hold a referendum to allow marriage equality.
Kenny's decision is remarkable given the opposition of the Catholic Church and the pressures within his own Fine Gael party. Many members are reluctant to hold a referendum at all after losing the last two.