Northern Ireland lesbian couple makes history
A Northern Ireland lesbian couple has made history for that country when they were the first same-sex couple to legally marry there this week.
Marriage equality became a law in Northern Ireland last January 13, and 27-year old Sharni Edwards and 26-year old Robyn Peoples took advantage of this by becoming legally married.
Northern Ireland lesbian couple mark their partnership
The couple said they wanted to have a civil union ceremony if the marriage equality law would not been passed.
Edwards told The Guardian that they didn’t expect to become the first couple.
She said: “Today is our six-year anniversary, so we wanted to go ahead with a civil partnership but when the bill was passed it was perfect timing and it was a complete coincidence, a happy coincidence.”
The two women had met in 2014 when Edwards– a waitress from Brighton, England– had met Peoples, a health care worker, at a nightclub in Belfast.
While the two still live in Belfast, they were married in Carrickfergus, County Antrim on their sixth anniversary as a couple.
When Northern Ireland passed the marriage quality law
Marriage equality had been the law of the land in England, Wales, and Scotland since 2014.
However, Northern Ireland only followed when the United Kingdom’s parliament passed an amendment to legalize marriage equality and abortion after the collapse of Northern Ireland’s government.
Previously, the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party had had been blocking same-sex civil marriage rights in Northern Ireland.
With the law coming into effect in January, same-sex couples started registering to marry– with marriages to follow by February.
The couple cited the Love Equality campaign for pushing marriage equality forward. The two had also marched at the Belfast Pride and other marriage equality events.
It takes a community for the Northern Ireland lesbian couple
The couple were effusive with their thanks to the LGBTQ rights activists and the community that made the law happen with the Love Equality campaign.
Edwards said: “We just want to say thank you to everyone– everyone who has marched and signed petitions, everyone who has helped us get to this stage, we just want to say thank you.”
Peoples added: “For Northern Ireland, we need to be the face of the people to show everyone it’s OK. We fought so long and hard for this opportunity to be seen as equal, and now we are here and it’s just amazing.”
When they were first informed at the registrar’s office that they were the first couple to sign up for a same-sex marriage, they couldn’t believe it.
Edwards told PinkNews: “It’ is so surreal for me. I still have to pinch myself. I just feel humbled and grateful. The younger generation need people to look up to, to see it’s OK for a woman to love a woman.”
Meanwhile, after she got married, Peoples said: “This is my wife. I can finally say this is my wife.”