Belfast Telegraph

Campaigner slams 'limbo' status after marriage law change

A marriage equality campaigner has hit out at the delay in converting civil partnerships to marriages in Northern Ireland. (stock photo)
A marriage equality campaigner has hit out at the delay in converting civil partnerships to marriages in Northern Ireland. (stock photo)
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A marriage equality campaigner has hit out at the delay in converting civil partnerships to marriages in Northern Ireland.

Legislation allowing same-sex marriage passed through the House of Commons last July, and was signed off by Secretary of State Julian Smith last month.

The first weddings are expected to take place around St Valentine's Day.

However, the legislation comes a year too late for Stephen Donnan and his partner William Dalzell, who celebrated their civil union on January 26 last year.

And while the couple want to be married, Stephen said the day was still very special.

While the new law will give marriage equality to LGBT couples not already in a civil partnership, unlike the rest of the UK and the Irish Republic, for couples like Stephen and William already in a civil partnership it is not straightforward.

Stephen explained: "The way the legislation is being brought in here, there is no provision being made to convert a civil partnership automatically to a marriage straight away.

"The only option open to William and I as things stand is we have to dissolve our civil partnership for two years and live apart.

"Once again, things that happened automatically in other parts of the UK are not happening here and that's another kick in the teeth.

"This was the format in other parts of the UK and it is the way it happened in the Republic."

There are plans to challenge the delay in converting civil partnerships in Northern Ireland.

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