Congratulations to all the newly married gay couples in Northern Ireland.
More than 1,300 same-sex couples have converted their civil partnerships into marries in Northern Ireland. According to the Irish Post, these events came to reality after reforms were made to the country’s laws. While same-sex couples could already get married earlier this year, the marriage equality changes excluded couples who had already entered civil partnerships. Then in October, Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker introduced the new regulations that would allow same-sex couples in civil partnerships to transfer into official marriages.
— Amanda McGurk (@amanda_mcgurk) December 7, 2020
Among the large group of same-sex couples getting married or planning to are Cara McCann and Amanda McGurk. McCann and McGurk are Love Equality campaigners who got married in Belfast this past Monday, November 30. In addition, the couple were the first to get married under the new laws.
“We fought long and hard for the right to marry,” McCann told Sky News.
She added: “We want to thank everyone who was part of this great movement for love and equality, and which has delivered this wonderful, positive change for our society. It is just surreal that this day has come and we feel so much more equal and valued today once we received our marriage certificate.”
She continued, “Marriage is universal, everyone across the globe knows what a marriage is. We grew up not saying, ‘I cannot wait to get a civil partnership’, we grew up saying, ‘I cannot wait to get married’.”
Congratulations to Chris & Henry, Cara & Amanda, John & Martin, Catherine & Sally, Ray & Pól and all the other couples finally able to marry today. #LoveWins 💕
Civil partnership conversion for landmark gay couple https://t.co/qKhqKzexF9
— Patrick Corrigan (@PatrickCorrigan) December 7, 2020
Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane, the first couple to have a civil partnership in the UK in 2005, were also among the couples converting to marriage on Monday.
As Chris Flanagan-Kane told BBC News, “Love is love. If you fall in love, you want to get married and want the same rights as our heterosexual brothers and sisters, but in Northern Ireland we were denied the right to have equal marriage.”
Chris, who’s a father-of-two with his husband, says the couple have experienced discrimination for being in a civil partnership.
“When we were filling in primary school forms and ticking a civil partnership box, you were kind of setting yourself up for discrimination before anyone had even met you,” he explained. “We were going in somewhere with a big flashing sign saying ‘I’m gay’ – so other people with opinions on that or who were prejudiced against that, they were forming them already before they had even met you.
He concluded, “So that was a big thing for us as well, about getting full, equal marriage rights.”
Despite the joy that’s happening in Northern Ireland, there is some frustration too. The DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest political party, is unwaveringly opposed to same-sex marriages. They argue that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But their opposition has lost out in the end. Same-sex couples of all kind are gaining legal recognition within the eyes of the law. And that’s something to celebrate.