Marriage equality in Ireland paves the way for further LGBT acceptance

This past weekend, Ireland became the first country to legalize marriage equality by popular vote. GLAAD played a role in the campaign for marriage equality, teaming up with the YesEquality campaign and reaching out to celebrities for their support. In addition, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis shared a video with the #VoteWithUs campaign, encouraging the citizens of Ireland to make what became a historic change.

Ireland is 1 of only 18 countries promising full marriage equality to all of its citizens. With this momentous achievement, Ireland has blazed a trail for countries to adopt legal protections for LGBT people including a movement for LGBT non-discrimination in Ireland as well as a push towards marriage equality in Australia.

Coming off of such a historic vote, a group of Irish lawmakers are aiming to change the country's Employment Equality Act. As the act currently stands, the law prohibits discrimination on nine grounds including gender, sexual orientation, disability, and race.

However, the law still allows schools and hospitals with a religious background to discriminate against employees with sexualities and family statuses that do not conform to the institution's beliefs. And institutions like that are more common than one might think in a country that just passed marriage equality. At a recent meeting of the Irish National Teachers' Organization, many LGBT teachers voiced concerns that their LGBT identities would impact their employment in a negative manner.

The proposed changes to the Employment Equality Act would eliminate this problem by protecting both current and prospective LGBT employees and single parents from discrimination. Ireland's Minister of State for Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, is leading the effort towards non-discrimination, and hopes to have the act amended by the start of the academic year in September. Should the changes be approved, this would put Ireland yet another step ahead of many countries, including the United States, on LGBT protections.

Other countries are also following suit in the movement towards full marriage equality. Inspired by Ireland's recent victory, 53 corporations in Australia such as Google and Ben & Jerry's as well as Commonwealth and ANX banks were listed in The Australian in a full-page ad that promises support for marriage equality.

The ad campaign was well-timed, as Labor leader Bill Shorten will introduce a bill in favor of marriage equality to the Australian parliament on Monday. Certainly, such high-profile corporate support will be important in securing the vote. National Director of Australian Marriage Equality Rodney Croome explained: "It was about corporate saying it's not just about us individually supporting this, we want to do it collectively and send the strongest possible message."

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Australia in late 2013, until the High Court overturned it five days later. For the one-year anniversary of the law's brief passing, GLAAD launched the #5DaysofEquality campaign, which featured photos of the 31 couples married and encouraged the public to send their wishes over social media. With that in mind, GLAAD continues to extend its support to those working towards equality in Australia and Ireland. With these prospective changes, we can only hope that other countries will begin to do the same and expand the movement for those in the LGBT community.