Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey — one of the country’s first two openly lesbian elected governors and a descendant of Irish immigrants — has been invited to address the Irish Senate on Tuesday to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ireland.
In 1993, Ireland passed a law decriminalizing homosexual acts. It would take the predominantly Catholic nation another two decades before it legalized same-sex marriage, by popular vote in 2015.
“As the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Irish immigrants and the first openly LGBTQ+ governor of Massachusetts, I’m honored to have been invited to address Seanad Éireann about the importance of developing our economic ties, standing up for our values and protecting the rights of everyone in our communities,” Healey said in a written statement.
Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage, as a result of a 2004 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, more than a decade before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.
The trip also coincides with the 60th anniversary of a state visit to Ireland by another Massachusetts Democrat — President John F. Kennedy — that helped usher in an economic and cultural partnership between the two countries.
Healey’s agenda during the weeklong trip, which begins and ends in Dublin, also includes business development meetings with Irish business leaders in technology and clean energy during her visit, which doubles as a trade mission, her first since taking office in January.
Healey’s pitch is that Massachusetts offers a lot that Irish businesses will find attractive, from the state’s “world-class education and research institutions to our cutting-edge biotechnology and clean energy sectors to our commitment to protecting civil rights and freedom.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll will serve as acting governor during Healey’s trip.