The first same-sex wedding has taken place in the Republic of Ireland – and a Northern Irish couple were among the first to be able to call each other “husband and husband”.
Tony and Darren Day, from County Antrim, had their wedding celebration in County Monaghan on Saturday. However, as same-sex marriage is not yet legalised – or recognised – in Northern Ireland, the short ceremony earlier today made their union official.
Tony and Darren had initially planned to have a civil partnership and had booked a hotel for 14th November. However, as time passed and – following a referendum – it became clear that the Republic of Ireland was set to introduce same-sex marriage, they became hopeful that they would actually be able to get married.
Darren, whose birth surname was Baird, admitted that it had been “a happy coincidence” that he and Tony were able to make history as one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Ireland, but the historical significance of the occasion mattered less than being able to be legally married. He said: “It’s been lovely to exchange our vows and to make it official, to finally be able to call each other husband and husband. Tony was joking that we would only be able to do that for 10 minutes until we went back over the [Irish] border [but] as far as we’re concerned, we’re married – we got married on this island.”
The ceremony on Saturday had no legal basis, but was a celebration of the couple’s love before 220 guests. Tony’s eight year old son, Parker, walked with them up the aisle. Darren said: “It was so sweet, and I’ve never sensed a feeling of love like that. Parker suggested holding our hands and walking us up the aisle, which was amazing for a child so young to have that idea.” Tony said “We held the wedding on Saturday and just tied up the legal bits today in a very small ceremony.”
Speaking to KaleidoScot, Tony was keen to explain how much the day meant to both of them. “We met about six and a half years ago online. We would never have thought what happened today would happen for us, we just always figured getting married would never be an option. We are delighted and slightly saddened at the same time. Delighted that we were able to do it, but saddened that when we crossed the border back into our home country it’s not recognised as a marriage.”
Asked how their marriage has been received back home in Northern Ireland, Tony said that most people have been positive. “Most of the comments we’ve seen have been very supportive”, he said. “Of course you are gonna get haters – you can’t please everybody all of the time. As our celebrant Eileen Morris said during our ceremony ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.'”
Tony added that he believed marriage equality will eventually come to Northern Ireland. He told KaleidoScot: “I think eventually it’ll be recognised. It’s always just a matter of time for these things. General opinion is changing, we just need our main political party to try to catch up.”
The party he is referring to is the Democratic Unionist Party, who recently blocked a motion in support of same-sex marriage after a majority of assembly members had voted in favour of it.
John O’Doherty, from the Rainbow Project – a Northern Irish organisation promoting health and LGBTI rights – told KaleidoScot: “We at The Rainbow Project send our congratulations to Tony and Darren. Both have been long time supporters of ours. Tony and Darren are Married and should be recognised as such. Our campaign continues and hopefully it won’t be long until their marriage is recognised in Northern Ireland.”