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Ireland, once a Catholic bastion, promises civil unions for same-sex couples

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Dublin, Ireland – As the United States engages in a heated debate over gay marriage, European Union countries are rapidly striding toward total recognition of same-sex civil unions, if not marriage. The most recent example is Ireland.Last Thursday saw Ireland become the latest country to edge toward marriage equality for homosexual couples. The Irish parliament read and debated the Civil Partnership Bill 2009, introduced by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern.

Despite Ireland's socially conservative image, opposition to the bill is virtually non-existent and will likely pass into law this month with widespread support from opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour as well as the governing coalition of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

If passed, the bill would see Ireland join a club of nine EU members that officially recognize civil unions. In addition, a further four EU countries – Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden – fully recognize same-sex marriages.

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