This is one of the most important items of civil rights legislation that has come before the House for some time. It makes a clear and powerful statement to gay people that they will never again have their status or relationship ignored. As I said earlier, we take nothing from anybody in this Bill; it does not undermine marriage, undermine anybody's rights or destroy anything. We are simply giving civil rights to gay people in the form of protection and recognition by the State. I thank Deputies Charles Flanagan and Howlin for their work on this Bill. It will now go to the Seanad and will hopefully pass into law thereafter. We have already indicated that the Government will pass taxation law legislation in the Finance Bill and also bring forward the necessary legislative provision in the social welfare area.
Some people are of the view that this Bill does not go far enough. Equally, there are others who believe it goes too far. My party committed itself in our manifesto to bringing forward this legislation. That was confirmed in the programme for Government we agreed with the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats and subsequently in the renewed programme for Government. We are fulfilling that commitment based on existing circumstances, namely, that on the one hand we have a constitutional imperative to support marriage and on the other a constitutional imperative to treat everybody equally before the law. The legislation is a fine balance between the two. I thank all those who have read and fully understood the implications of the Bill. I look forward to it being signed into law by the President once it has passed through the Seanad.