First same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland welcomed

The legalising of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland this week has been welcomed by some Stormont ministers.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Finance Minister Conor Murphy, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Justice Minister Naomi Long commented ahead of the first same-sex marriage ceremony which will take place in Co Antrim on Tuesday.

Sharni Edwards, 27, and Robyn Peoples, 26, will marry on their sixth anniversary as a couple.

They had booked a civil partnership ceremony for the date, months before the landmark law change in the region.

Ms Edwards, from Brighton, and Ms Peoples, from Belfast, have now turned the event into a wedding ceremony.

Ms Long offered her congratulations to the couple.

“This day has been a long time coming and is a result of many years of campaigning across these islands,” she said.

“There have been many campaigns to promote the cause of equal marriage, and while Sharni and Robyn celebrate taking their vows, I have no doubt many others will also be celebrating this milestone in the recognition of equal rights.”

Same-sex marriage was eventually legalised as a result of a law passed last year by Westminster MPs who stepped in and acted on the controversial issue during the powersharing impasse at Stormont.

Ms O’Neill said it was a very good day for those who want to marry the one they love.

“So when you’re in love and you want to get married, you now have the ability to do so and that is right and proper,” she said, speaking at Stormont.

“My words for anyone who finds themselves in that situation is ‘be happy’.”

Speaking at Belfast City Hall, Mr Murphy described the day as “another huge milestone for equality”.

“I congratulate all those who have campaigned for many years for this day to come, particularly all those involved in the Love Equality campaign,” he said.

Ms Hargey added: “This is truly a major step forward. In legally permitting same-sex couples to express their love for each other in marriage, we show our inclusiveness and respect for diversity and that can only be a good thing.”

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