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A couple from Belfast tied the knot in the first same-sex marriage to take place in Northern Ireland.Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27, made history at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at a hotel in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.
Their marriage took place after a change in local law.The day marks their sixth anniversary as a couple and they had booked a civil partnership ceremony at the Loughshore Hotel months before the law was passed last summer.
After a long, high-profile campaign for change, same-sex marriage was legalized in Westminster by MPs who intervened and acted on the issue during the Stormont power-sharing stalemate.Edwards stated that "marriage is an absolute right", before thanking activists who campaigned for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland."If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be sitting here right now.
We just want to say thank you to everyone... everyone who's marched and signed petitions, everyone who's helped us get to this point, we just want to say thank you."We didn't expect to be the first couple, it's a coincidence. Today is our sixth anniversary, so we wanted to move forward with a civil partnership, but when the bill was passed, the timing was perfect and it was a total coincidence, a happy coincidence. We could not be more grateful".People said, "For Northern Ireland, we need to be the face of the people to show everyone that all is well".
We fought so long and hard for this to be seen as equal and now we're here and it's just unbelievable," said Edwards, a waitress from Brighton who didn't know the law was different in Northern Ireland until she moved from England to Belfast: "We feel humiliated that our marriage is a milestone for equal rights in Northern Ireland. We didn't want to go down in history - we just fell in love."We are so grateful to the thousands of people who marched for our freedoms, to the Love Equality campaign that paved the way and to the politicians who voted to change the law. Without you, our marriage wouldn't have been possible. We will be eternally grateful.While the wedding was taking place in the county of Antrim in Westminster, activists were preparing for a reception to thank the MPs who took action on this issue.
Sara Canning, the partner of author Lyra McKee, who was murdered by dissident Republicans in Londonderry last April, attended the event organised by Amnesty International and the Love Equality campaign."What a wonderful moment in our history," she said. "It really means a lot and has given me a much-needed light in this dark year."I know Lyra would have been very happy to see this day...
Of course, this historic moment is a bit bittersweet. It was also our dream. Lyra and I should have been an engaged couple now, planning our own wedding."But I'm so happy for Robyn and Sharni... and for all the other couples that will follow."