The Republic of Ireland is set to vote on proposals to introduce civil same-sex marriage on May 22, just over two months away.

Independent Senator Katherine Zappone – the only openly lesbian Senator in the country – has challenged Senator Rónán Mullen to a debate on the issue.

Rónán Mullen – a consistent opponent of equality – recently accused the country’s media of a “groupthink” on the issue.

Responding to his comments, Senator Zappone wrote to the Irish Times: “I am surprised by the claims of Senator Ronan Mullen (…) that members of the media are participating in groupthink with regard to the forthcoming referendum.

“Mr Mullen also says that he looks forward to a more balanced debate as the referendum approaches, and that it has been ‘all emotionalism’ up to now.

“In my view this is a debate that calls upon all dimensions of human intelligence – emotional, spiritual and rational.

“I think that this is the debate that we are having now in the public domain and at dinner tables up and down the country.

“As for the future, would Mr Mullen like to meet me on the public debate trail?

“For that matter, I would be keen also to participate in a respectful and public debate with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin as well.”

The Married Lesbian Senator

Ann left and Katherine

Ann left and Katherine

Katherine Zappone married her darling, Ann Louise Gilligan, in Canada in 2003.  Now, Ireland is poised to present a referendum on equality  of marriage to its citizens.  Many prominent citizens are standing with Katerine and Ann Louise. They include actor, Colin Farrell, who brother also married in Canada.  Gay Byrne, television broadcaster and the comedian who plays Mrs. Brown on “Mrs. Brown’s Boys” have given their thumbs up.

Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan challenged the Irish courts to recognize their marriage that had taken place in 2003.  In a predictable outcome, the High Court of Dublin rejected their marriage, stating that marriage could only be defined between members of the opposite sex.  That was in 2006 and now in 2015 the outcome will be determined in a referendum.

I disagree that the issue of any human rights should be determined by a referendum.    paula.

Working Individually and Together

Every morning in a suburb of Dublin Katherine and Ann take turns bringing up breakfast for each other in bed.

Every morning in a suburb of Dublin, Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone take turns bringing up breakfast to each other in bed.   Katherine has government work and involvement in her policy consultancy business.  Ann is in the Department of Education in St. Patrick’s College in Drumcondra (Dublin suburb).  They come together to work in THE MUSE, a building at the back of their house.  They hold courses and The Muse is linked to an organization called An Cosan.  This is where they help people to achieve skills and get off welfare.

Boston College – A Place to Study and Fall in Love

They fell in love with each other in Boston College in 1981, where they were doing their doctorates in theology. Dubliner Ann Louise was an ex-nun and Washington-born Katherine was already a lesbian and all set on an academic career.

Service to the community was something both women wanted to incorporate into their love and lives.

“We decided that we wanted to do something for people with far less than we had,” says Ann Louise. “It was just as simple as that.”

“Our desire for each other is matched by our shared desire for common good,” says Katherine. “Imagine creating something like An Cosan together with the community. You really feel like you’re bringing about some change for the good. Why wouldn’t you want to do it?”