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Brides Make History with First Legal Same-Sex Wedding in Northern Ireland

Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards wed on a landmark day for same-sex marriage in a territory with long-standing restrictive laws.

Reuters

The first legal same-sex wedding took place in Northern Ireland on Tuesday after new legislation went into effect following years of activism. 

Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, both wore white wedding gowns as they made history in a town outside Belfast called Carrickfergus. The couple is the first to tie the knot in Northern Ireland, which legalized both same-sex marriage and abortion in October.

Since 2005, same-sex couples could only legally enter civil partnerships in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. In 2014, England, Wales, and Scotland legalized same-sex marriage. 

The UK Parliament took control of Northern Ireland in 2017 after its government collapsed. Lawmakers in England gave Northern Ireland until October 21, 2019 to re-establish its government, otherwise it would extend the same-sex marriage and abortion laws to its region. Since they were unable to do so, the new laws went into effect. 

Peoples and Edwards told the Belfast Telegraph that their historic marriage was a coincidence, as they already had planned a civil partnership ceremony. 

“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, we couldn’t be more grateful,” said Peoples. 

Activists in Northern Ireland worked for decades to ensure that same-sex marriage was legalized. A collection of six organizations formed Love Equality which has held rallies and led lobbying efforts toward LGBTQ+ rights. Now, the coalition is continuing its work toward same-sex religious marriages.

“It’s just to show that we are equal to a man and a woman, our love is just the same, it’s no different,” said Peoples. “Now we are married and we have this opportunity – this is my wife, I can finally say she is my wife and we have had our marriage.”