Ireland’s same-sex couples can now marry after marriage equality has been signed into law last week.
Existing same-sex marriages registered abroad will be immediately recognised in Ireland, while other couples can now register their intention to marry.
A referendum in May this year saw 62% of voters say ‘Yes’ to marriage equality, which lead to the legislation of the Marriage Act 2015.
Vivian Cummins, 57, from Dublin who married his partner Erney in South Africa in 2009 told AFP: “I felt I didn’t have permission to say we were married but from now we will say it at every opportunity.
“I would never really admit by choice to being married because I didn’t feel married in this country.”
The Marriage Equality Act was a milestone in a long journey for LGBTI campaigners fighting for equality in the predominately Catholic country that only decriminalised same-sex acts in 1993.
“I suspect people must now be feeling like this is the longest engagement on Earth,” said Colm O’Gorman, chief executive of Amnesty International Ireland and one of the leading “Yes” campaigners.
“We are at last at the stage where people are just getting on with their lives and marriages can happen.”
Senator Katherine Zappone, who lost a High Court case in 2006 to have her Canadian marriage to her wife recognised in Ireland, said: “After years of waiting for this day, it’s just an extraordinary moment for us.”
The couple plan to bring their “marriage home” in a ceremony in January after Zappone proposed to her wife Ann Louise Gilligan live on national television after the referendum result was announced.
Couples who have entered a civil partnership can register now to convert it to marriage, following a ceremony, with a just a five days notice.
Under Irish law, it is required to register an “intention to marry” to authorities three months before a marriage.
From today, 187 couples who have applied for civil partnerships since the referendum will be able to get married instead.
“I think it’s going to be massive,” said wedding planner Marian Purcell of Gay Weddings Ireland.
“It’s going to be very exciting in the future. I don’t think it will die down after the initial few, everyone loves a good wedding,” she told AFP.
“People are seeing Ireland in a new light as an LGBT friendly country for honeymoons and holidays too.”