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The First Same-Sex Marriage To Happen In Northern Ireland Takes Place Today

Northern Ireland has heralded in a historic law change, with the first legal same-sex marriage taking place in Carrickfergus today.

"Our love is personal, but the law which said we couldn't marry was political."

Two women living in Belfast are set to become the first same-sex couple to embark on a civil partnership ceremony in Northern Ireland since legislation has changed. 

Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, will tie the knot at 2pm in Carrickfergus, following the landmark law change last year championed by the Love Equality campaign.

The day marks their sixth anniversary as a couple.

Same-sex marriage could legally take place in Northern Ireland from Monday, 10 February.

Northern Ireland now joins the rest of the UK in legalising same-sex marriages after the UK Parliament passed an Act last year which also legalised abortion during the power-sharing impasse at Stormont. 

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Northern Ireland Humanists has described it as an ‘incredible day’ for LGBT rights after decades of campaigning for legal same-sex marriages.

The first marriage is a civil marriage, but Northern Ireland Humanists is looking forward to holding the first legal humanist same-sex marriage for a couple next month.

Ahead of their wedding, Peoples told RTÉ  that they, as a couple, were sending a message to the world that "we are equal".

"Our love is personal, but the law which said we couldn't marry was political," she said.

"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."

Sara Canning, partner of the late journalist Lyra McKee who was killed in Derry last April, will 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.

"What a wonderful moment in our history," she said.

"This really means so much and has brought me some much-needed light in what has been a dark year," Ms Canning said.

"I know Lyra would have been so overjoyed to see this day."

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Director of Amnesty International, which helped lead the successful Love Equality campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland, said: "Sharni and Robyn's wedding is a landmark moment for equality in Northern Ireland. We wish them all the love and happiness for their married life together.

"People in Northern Ireland have had to fight longer, harder and overcome more obstacles to win equal marriage than anywhere else in the UK or Ireland. We are proud of the LGBT community here and the thousands who marched alongside them to ensure this day became a reality.

"In winning this campaign, we haven't just changed the law, we've changed Northern Ireland for the better."

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