A Northern Ireland couple just made history with their same-sex wedding ceremony. While the region legalized gay marriage earlier this year- and the first lesbian wedding took place shortly after-up until this weekend no couples were wed during a religious ceremony. Read on for the full story.
Northern Ireland Celebrates First Religious Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony
Northern Ireland’s first same-sex religious wedding took place on Saturday, between Chris McNaghten and Jon Swan. The couple wed in Co Antrim in a small ceremony officiated by a Harbour Faith Community (a Christian church) minister.
The ceremony itself was only possible due to legislation first introduced back in July giving religious organizations the “go ahead” to perform same-sex marriage. Of course, they offered an “out” for churches that wish to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples, but that’s fairly common throughout the world. Even the United States exempts religious organizations.
At that time, Patrick Corrigan of the Northern Ireland division of Amnesty International called it “a landmark day for equality in Northern Ireland.” Of McNaughten’s and Swan’s wedding, he said,
“With Chris and Jon’s wedding, following the first civil partnership conversions on Monday, we now reach the end of the long campaign for marriage equality here.”
Sadly, like many couples around the world, McNaughten and Swan planned to wed earlier, but canceled twice due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting gatherings. With newly relaxed restrictions in Northern Ireland, the couple were finally able to proceed on Saturday.
McNaghten and Swan tied the knot at a Larne, County Antrim wedding venue. Pastor Steve Ames officiated the ceremony. McNaughten told BBC News, They were joined by their family and closest friends.
“For most people, your wedding day is known as being the best day of your life – for us, it’s a dream come true that growing up we thought we would never have.”
He said his “praise goes out to all those involved in this battle for equality over the years,” adding,
“It’s amazing to see Northern Ireland now in line with the rest of the UK and Ireland regards equality for the LGBTQ community.
Northern Ireland also celebrated first civil partnership turned marriage
Northern Ireland was full of firsts last week, as Cara McCann and Amanda McGurk became the first couple to turn their civil union into a full legal marriage. When Ireland first legalized same-sex marriage, they only allowed new couples to tie the knot.
Those who already had existing legal partnerships under their former “civil union” laws were prohibited from changing their union into a full-fledged marriage. Under the new rules, more than 1,300 couples can now legally wed rather than be forced to settle for a civil partnership.
Congratulations to both of these beautiful couples, not just on their nuptials, but on making history! Northern Ireland had a rocky start, but with new regulations they’re now on par with the rest of the UK in terms of LGBTQ rights.