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Marriage Equality

Meet Ireland's Marriage Equality Benefactor: American Billionaire Chuck Feeney

Meet Ireland's Marriage Equality Benefactor: American Billionaire Chuck Feeney


If Ireland wins marriage equality in a historic referendum this month, some will want to thank an Irish-American philanthropist.

Proud Irish-American Chuck Feeney, who made an estimated $7.5 billion as the world's king of duty-free shops, is giving huge financial support to marriage equality advocates in Ireland, according to Irish Central.

Feeney says he wants to give all of his massive fortune away before he dies. The enactment of marriage equality in Ireland, which is poised for a vote May 22 in a much-anticipated national referendum, is just one LGBT cause benefiting from the billionaire's goal to spend it all on charitable giving.

Marriage equality supporters are cautiously optimistic that the marriage equality measure will pass, with a recent poll showing 70 percent of voters support allowing same-sex couples marry.

However, notes Irish Central, some pundits are warning that Ireland is famous for overstated polling trends. That's why Feeney, who reportedly has earmarked no less than $1 billion for human rights causes in Ireland, is taking no chances.

Feeney channels much of his philanthropy through his Atlantic Philanthropies organization, and a great deal of that is aimed squarely at making Ireland a more affirming, accepting, and equitable country for everyone, including LGBT people. In fact, the cofounder of DFS has given substantially to the cause of securing legal recognition and respect for gender-nonconforming people.

Last year Atlantic Philanthropies posted to YouTube a decidedly upbeat video tracing a decade of progress toward LGBT equality in Ireland. Feeney has quietly been funding the core advocacy orgnizations making that progress happen. Atlantic Philanthropies established four organizations in Ireland between 2004 and 2013 whose objectives are "improve human rights, visibility, and access to services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

With monikers like Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, Marriage Equality Transgender Equality Network, Ireland and Gender Recognition Advisory Group, some of those organizations have become household names both inside and outside of Ireland. According to one activist interviewed in the video, the ability to rely on multi-annual funding support from Feeney and Atlantic Philanthropies has been the key factor in making Irish society LGBT-friendly.

Irish Central wrote of Feeney, "The working class Irish kid from Elizabeth, New Jersey" coined the phrase "giving while living" and "has surpassed the Rockefellers and Andrew Carnegie when it comes to charitable giving."

Find out more about Feeney and Atlantic Philanthropies in this video:

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