Northern Ireland: name the date!

Today is the big day for couples in Northern Ireland.

Same-sex marriage became legal as of midnight (a few minutes ago). So did mixed-sex civil partnerships.

That sadly doesn’t mean people can marry today who could not do so yesterday, but it does mean they can file the paperwork for getting married early in February.

And existing same-sex marriages conducted in Scotland, Wales and England are now properly recognised as marriages in Northern Ireland as well, whereas up until now they counted as civil partnerships instead.

The move to bring in same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was backed in Westminster back in July – with a deadline back in October by which the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly would have to vote to block the changes.  Such a vote – because of the ongoing stalemate between Sinn Fein and the DUP which has seen the devolved assembly fail to form a government in three years – did not happen.

The first same-sex marriages in the six counties may be conducted from 20th February 2020 – which has been widely noted to be the end of Valentine’s Day week.  Our delighted best wishes to everyone rushing off to sort out the paperwork and be civilly partnered or married at last.