Changing Attitude Ireland (CAI), the Anglican Church of Ireland’s pro-gay group, has made a submission to the Irish Constitutional Convention in support of extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.

The convention is examining equal marriage, along with other key issues, in a year-long consultation exercise.

CAI stated in its submission that it “strongly supports the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. CAI views the existing inequalities between civil partnership and civil marriage as having a real world detrimental impact on the lives of same-sex couples, and even more on children being raised by them.

“We call for churches and other faith groups to be allowed ‘opt in’ to registering same-sex marriages, while protecting them from any attempt at compulsion, as this is the best way to respect the religious freedoms of both those who support and those who oppose same-sex marriage.”

It added: “This is particularly important in the Irish context, where there is a history of civil marriage law being used to discriminate against religious minorities.”

The Constitutional Convention set up last year by the Irish Government to examine possible changes to the Irish Constitution will meet in Dublin on 13 and 14 April to discuss same-sex civil marriage.

It is made up of 100 members two thirds of whom are citizen members chosen to represent a cross-section of Irish society.

The other third are parliamentary members of the Dail (Irish lower house) and Seanad (Irish senate) and MLAs from Northern Ireland.

In November 2012, Irish deputy prime minister (Tánaiste) Eamon Gilmore said he would like to see a referendum on equal marriage “as soon as possible”.

Mr Gilmore said his own view was that the “time has come” for Ireland to introduce marriage rights for gay couples. “I don’t believe we should postpone what is a human right,” he told RTÉ radio.