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Just Married! - Damian McKevitt and Padraig Lynch
Just Married! - Damian McKevitt and Padraig Lynch

As far as Newry men Damian McKevitt and Padraig Lynch were concerned they celebrated their marriage three years ago today on the 5 May 2018.

Unfortunately though, like many other gay couples, officially the option of marriage wasn't open to them, with a civil partnership as close as they were allowed to get! 'Almost' marriage, 'looks like' marriage, 'virtually' marriage  ... but not quite!

Damian and Padraig at their Civil Partnership in 2018. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Damian and Padraig at their Civil Partnership in 2018. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

All that changed today on their third anniversary when, thanks to new equal marriage legislation brought in during February 2020 and regulations introduced to convert civil partnerships to marriage in December 2020, they were at long last able to declare themselves very much officially married.

Registrar Anne Kearney completed the formalities at Newry Town Hall Registry Office at 2pm and then finally they were able to walk out the door of their local Town Hall as Husband and Husband!

Damian explained "For us this is the final step in our long road for equality in terms of equal marriage. As much as we got married three years ago and for us it was our wedding, it still wasn't equal marriage and the fight for equal marriage has fortunately concluded in Northern Ireland so obviously we were going to avail of that because it's what we deserved all these years and what we are now entitled to."

Playing on the current conversion therapy conversation Damian added "Todays Marriage conversion is the only therapy we could ever need."

Explaining how he felt, now married, Damian's Husband Padraig added "It doesn't make me feel any different but I do feel more an equal part of the community, more an equal part of society"

Damian and Padraig with the all important Marriage Certificate. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Damian and Padraig with the all important Marriage Certificate. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Regulations enacted in December 2020 meant that those who have had a civil partnership can now convert it to marriage at an approved venue by filling in a conversion declaration.

The conversion converts one legal relationship into another, ie once a civil partnership is converted into a marriage the original civil partnership will end and the couple is treated as having been married since the date of the original event.

Damian thinks it is important to celebrate how far we have come "It is important to us. It is that fact that we are now equal citizens with all our peers in this part of this island. And as much for LGBT people there are still huge issues and other things to be done, but we have to mark the celebration of the occasions when the fight has been won, and this is one fight that has been won"

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