This couple are asking for Theresa May’s help so they can get married
A couple are asking Theresa May to ensure they can get married in Northern Ireland.
Jayne Robinson and Laura McKee, of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, are a couple of six years.
But despite equal marriage becoming legal in England, Wales and Scotland more than three years ago, the pair are still waiting for the right to marry.
Progress has been stalled in Northern Ireland as the ultra-conservative DUP refuse to allow any discussion of same-sex unions.
A political crisis in the country, which has led to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, has further complicated matters.
Without the Assembly in place, the power to legislate on the issue rests with the UK government – and Jayne and Laura are urging Prime Minister Theresa May to help secure equality.
Ms Robinson said: “I love Laura and I know she loves me.
“Just like most other couples in a long-term, committed relationship, we want to get married. At the moment our politicians are stopping us.
“With devolution suspended and Westminster increasingly taking the decisions, we want Theresa May to act now to bring Northern Ireland’s marriage laws into line with those in the rest of the UK.
“The Prime Minister has recently said that she supports equal marriage rights for couples in Northern Ireland. Now Laura and I are asking her to prove it.”
The couple are raising a daughter together, Abbie, but they are still unable to celebrate their love with their friends and family because of the ban on gay weddings.
And even if they travelled to another part of the UK to marry, the couple’s marriage would not be recognised as a marriage in Northern Ireland.
A petition in support of the pair has attracted more than 5,000 signatures so far.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently expressed her personal support for same-sex marriage, in an exclusive column for PinkNews.
Writing for PinkNews, Mrs May affirmed: “I want all British citizens to enjoy the fullest freedoms and protections. That includes equal marriage – because marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their sexuality.
“And while that is a matter for the devolved government of Northern Ireland, I will continue to make my position clear – that LGBT+ people in Northern Ireland should have the same rights as people across the rest of the UK.”
However, her words are yet to be transferred into action – and given her government’s reliance on the DUP, it may be difficult for her to do so.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland has been without a regional government since January due to the failure of power-sharing talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP, who legally must form an executive as the two largest parties.
Sinn Féin included equal marriage in a list of demands that the DUP has refused to meet, contributing to the impasse.
The petition, penned by Love Equality NI, said: “Laura and Jayne love each other. They started dating 6 years ago and now live together with their daughter, Abbie. Just like many other couples in a long-term, committed relationship, they want to get married.
“Despite the fact that the rest of the UK has marriage equality, politicians in Northern Ireland won’t let them marry. After months of using same-sex couples as pawns in their negotiations, they failed to form a government which can enact Equal Marriage.
“The Westminster Government has passed a budget for the Northern Ireland Assembly in November – this is likely the first step on the road to direct rule from the UK Government in London, where there is a strong consensus that ALL citizens of the UK should have the right to marry.”
The group added: “Theresa May, we are calling on you NOW to implement the will of the people and their elected representatives and to extend Equal Marriage rights to UK citizens living in Northern Ireland.”
Patrick Corrigan of the Love Equality campaign urged MPs to act earlier this month.
Mr Corrigan said: “Stormont has failed. It has repeatedly failed to legislate for equal marriage despite popular support. And now it has failed to agree a government.
“For years we have asked the Northern Ireland Executive to legislate for marriage equality, in line with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of public opinion here. But it has proved incapable or unwilling to do so, has now collapsed and shows no sign of returning.
“Now it falls to the government of Theresa May to do the right thing by the LGBT community in Northern Ireland.
“The Prime Minister has recently said that same-sex marriage should be available in all parts of the UK and that she would support its extension to Northern Ireland.”
“Now is the time for actions to follow words.
“If the Prime Minister refuses to legislate for equality for all LGBTI citizens in the UK, then we would expect MPs to exercise their role as legislators by extending marriage equality to citizens in Northern Ireland.”
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Meanwhile Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has criticised both the DUP and the UK government.
She said: “Over the last ten months, the focus of these negotiations has been on the delivery of rights which are the norm everywhere else on these islands.
“Many of these rights are fundamental parts of the Good Friday and other agreements. They are for the benefit of all sections of society and threaten no-one.
“Furthermore, marriage equality, language rights, the Bill of Rights and the right to Coroners Inquests are supported by a majority in the Assembly and in wider society.
“The only reason they are denied is because of DUP resistance to the rights agenda and the British Government’s acquiescence in this.”
She added: “The issue of rights is not going to go away. The DUP and British Government know this. These rights must be satisfactorily dealt with.”
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