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    Gay couples want to return: Irish Times

    By Noreen Bowden | April 1, 2008

    An American researcher has said that recognising same-sex partnerships would allow Ireland to reap economic benefits by increasing the number of well-educated returnees. Currently, Ireland does not recognise gay relationships and its immigration law does not allow for Irish citizens to bring their non-marital partners with them if they move home.

    Gary Gates, a senior research fellow at the Williams Institute in UCLA, says that there are at least 1,173 same-sex couples in the US that include an Irish partner. He found most Irish people in a US-based same-sex partnership are women, highly educated, and with an average age of 40.  One in seven are raising children.

    Gates told the Irish Times that more than 40% have a college education, as compared to an average of 30% for other Irish immigrants in the US. He says:

    In that sense, you’re getting some level of economic benefit. But I actually think that the bigger benefits come in terms of the fact that Ireland is an economy that has quite a few global companies that need to be able to move their personnel around easily across national borders.

    I think that legal recognition, at least for one section of their employees, for gay and lesbian people . . . both in a very practical way but also as a signal to employers that says, ‘we’re making this as easy as we can for you and this is just one obstacle we’re taking out of your way,’ I think all of that has positive economic benefits.

    The Times article, written by Denis Staunton, also highlighted the situation of American Annie Rogers and Irish-born √?de O’Carroll, a couple in their 50s who are finding it difficult to plan for their retirement move from Amherst, Massachusetts to Lismore, Co. Waterford, where they own a home. Annie can only stay for three months at a time.¬† The couple got married in Massachusetts in 2005 but their relationship is not recognised in Ireland. √?de says,

    We are in some respects inhibited from having the kind of life we want to have by the sort of immigration legislation that’s in place because of the nature of our same-sex marriage and relationship. Were we heterosexual, we could both be dual citizens and navigate both places freely and choose to live where we want.

    √?de also noted her belief that Irish society is more ready for recognising gay partnerships than politicians believe:

    My experience in Ireland has been very, very positive, as somebody who works as an ‘out’ person, with family and friends living in a small town in Ireland. So I think it’s a question of the politicians not reading the climate of change in a way that I think that they should.

     Read the entire article (subscription required).

    See Ean’s factsheet on the issue of gay partnerships and return migration.

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