'We didn't set out to make history - we just fell in love'
Two women have just become the first people ever to have a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, wed at the Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus this afternoon after six years of dating.
The couple had originally booked a civil partnership for today’s date last summer, wanting to marry on the same day as their six-year anniversary. When the landmark change was announced in Northern Ireland last month to allow same-sex marriages, however, they decided to switch their union from a civil ceremony to a wedding.
The young couple are elated by the happy coincidence, with Ms Edwards telling RTE: ‘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.’
Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Ms Peoples, who is a care worker in Belfast, said: ‘We’re both nervous but very excited. Our love is personal, but the law which said we couldn’t marry was political.’
She added: ‘We are delighted that with our wedding, we can now say that those days are over. While this campaign ends with Sharni and I saying, ‘I do’, it started with people saying ‘No’ to inequality. By standing together, we’ve made history.’
Ms Edwards, who admitted she did not even realise the law was different in Northern Ireland until she moved to Belfast from England, stated: ‘We feel humbled that our wedding is a landmark moment for equal rights in Northern Ireland. We didn’t set out to make history, we just fell in love.’
Sara Canning, partner of Lyra McKee, the journalist who was killed in Derry last April, is set to join activists, MPs and campaigners from Amnesty International and the Love Equality campaign at a UK parliamentary event later this evening to celebrate the law change.
Lyra McKee, who was in a same-sex relationship with Canning, had planned to marry her before she was tragically murdered whilst covering a dissident republican riot in Derry last year.
Addressing Peoples and Edwards union today, Canning told RTE: ‘This really means so much and has brought me some much-needed light in what has been a dark year,’
‘I know Lyra would have been so overjoyed to see this day. She was a strong advocate for equal marriage and we both took part in the marches organised by the Love Equality campaign.’
She added: ‘What a wonderful moment in our history.’
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Northern Ireland as and from Monday 10th February 2020.