I took to the road for Dateline last week, to see how voters on both sides were settling into the new reality — and what Australia might be able to learn from the Irish process, two years on. In Australia, as in Ireland, the issue ignites fervour on both sides. The recognition is formally authorised by a statutory instrument , four of which in been passed: The Government said that it would legislate following the report, but Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also said there might not be time to do so before the then upcoming election. Civil partnerships discontinued on the day same-sex marriage legislation came into effect in November , though civil partners are permitted to retain their relationship status, as there is no automatic upgrade from a civil partnership to marriage. Things got nasty, and many in the LGBTQI community spoke of the unfairness of the majority being allowed to vote on the rights of a minority. In a report on de facto couples  presented to the Justice Minister in May , the Irish Human Rights Commission evaluated international standards in dealing with unmarried couples, and assessed the changes needed in Irish law from a human rights perspective. Offering civil marriage to same-sex couples would be open to constitutional challenge. The Act, in the main, is retrospective to 1 January and it creates virtual parity, in taxation matters, between civil partners on the one hand and married people on the other hand. In April , the commission published a consultation paper  with provisional recommendations on legal issues related to cohabiting relationships. The group facilitated a conference on the topic in May , as input to its reports which was attended by experts from other countries which have introduced civil unions and same-sex marriage. These rights would be applied by the court on application as distinct from the 'automatic' rights of legal marriage. The act explicitly declared that there was an "impediment to a marriage" if "both parties are of the same sex". It suggested that there should instead be legislation for a civil partnership registration open to same-sex or opposite-sex couples which would confer succession, maintenance and taxation rights. In the next month or so, debate will rage, and passions will ignite. The conservative Protestant church and its representatives in local government want to keep marriage as between a man and a woman, while the LGBTQI community want the same rights as their counterparts across the border.