On Jan. 1 Ireland's Civil Partnership Act takes effect and "dozens" of gay couples are "making plans" to file paperwork, but the first civil partnerships won't take place until at least April, after a mandatory three-month waiting period after couples register. (Well, unless a couple files an appeal for an "urgent" union.) Civil partnerships, approved with President Mary McAleese's signature in July, will carry nearly identical rights and privileges as marriage, and foreigners from countries were civil unions and same-sex marriage is on par with Ireland's new law will be legally recognized there. To move beyond civil partnerships, lawmakers would have to amend Ireland's constitution to permit marriage.
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