'This is my wife!' Women celebrate N Ireland's first gay marriage






London - By Bill Smith, - Two women celebrated Northern Ireland's first same-sex marriage on Tuesday, in what they and human rights campaigners hailed as an "amazing" and historic moment.



The wedding of Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, was made possible after same-sex marriage became legal in Northern Ireland in October despite opposition from local politicians and religious leaders.
"For Northern Ireland ... we need to just show everyone that it's okay [to be a same-sex couple]," Peoples said after the ceremony in the town of Carrickfergus.
"We've fought so long and hard for this opportunity to be seen as equal, and now we're here, and it's just amazing," she said.
The wedding was "just to show that we are equal to a man and a woman. Our love is just the same," Peoples said.
"This is my wife! I can finally say she is my wife," she added, looking at Edwards as the two women sat side by side in bridal chairs, wearing similar white wedding dresses.
"We didn't expect to be the first couple, it's just a coincidence," Edwards said.
"Today's our six-year anniversary so we already wanted to go ahead with a civil partnership but when the [equal marriage] bill was passed it was perfect timing."
Amnesty International Northern Ireland said the women's marriage was "proof that fighting for equality makes a difference."
Conor Murphy, the finance minister in Northern Ireland's devolved government, congratulated Peoples and Edwards ahead of the wedding.
"Today is another huge milestone for equality when same-sex couples can for the first time get married," said Murphy, who represents left-wing Irish republican party Sinn Fein.
"This day has been a long time coming and is as a result of many years of campaigning across these islands," said Naomi Long, leader of Northern Ireland's centre-left Alliance Party.
Peoples told Amnesty the couple, who took part in the Love Equality Northern Ireland campaign, had their first date in Belfast.
"She gave me her hat so she could see me again," Edwards said.
"It means a lot to us that we can get married because we now have the same rights as opposite-sex couples," Peoples said.
"I think it's important to be visible," she said. "People can see that we are together and we're proud to be together."
Lawmakers in the British parliament voted to allow same-sex marriage and wider abortion rights in Northern Ireland in July, during a three-year suspension of the territory's power-sharing government, which reconvened last month.

Tuesday, February 11th 2020
By Bill Smith,
           


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