'Same-sex marriage coming to Northern Ireland' says US lawmaker

By agency reporter
October 12, 2015

Same-sex marriage is coming to Northern Ireland. That is the message which a pioneering New York legislator brought to Belfast on 9 October in a keynote speech to campaigners.

Daniel J O'Donnell led the fight for same-sex marriage in New York, first introducing the Marriage Equality bill to the Assembly in 2007, then again – twice – in 2009, before the law finally passed both the Assembly and Senate in June 2011. Same-sex marriage was declared law across the United States on 26 June, 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that State bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.

Daniel J O’Donnell said: “We came through the same battles for marriage equality in the United States which Northern Ireland now faces. And just as sure as we succeeded, I know the success of equality campaigners in Northern Ireland is inevitable.

“Marriage equality is now commonplace in the rest of the United Kingdom, and it is to become law in the Republic of Ireland. Because many people in Northern Ireland are supportive of its introduction, it is now only a matter of time before same-sex couples can get married here as well.”

O'Donnell was the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly. Just months after the passage of his marriage equality law, Daniel married his partner of 31 years. He and his husband, John Banta, live in New York City.

A recent Ipsos MORI opinion poll showed that 68 per cent of people in Northern Ireland, rising to 82 per cent among 16-34 year-olds, back a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/21864) In June, an estimated 20,000 people marched through Belfast demanding marriage equality legislation.

* Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org.uk/

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