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Omagh woman ‘delighted’ that gay marriage is legal

AN Omagh woman who wed her long-term girlfriend in England almost four years ago has spoken of her delight that same-sex marriage has finally been legalised in the North.

Constance White married partner Jennifer, from Southport, in a civil ceremony held in the West Tower
Country House, Lanchashire in May 2016.

At the time, Constance told the UH that she would have loved to have been married in Omagh and described the ban on gay marriage in Northern Ireland as “silly and disappointing”.

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But last year, in the absence of the NI Assembly, MPs at Westminster voted to change the legislation.

From Monday same-sex couples in the North have been able to register to marry, meaning the first
ceremonies will take place in February.

For couples who are already married,  their marriage will now be legally recognised in the North.
Speaking to the UH this week, from her new home in Australia, Constance said that the change in legislation here was “long overdue”.

She said, “I made the decision to move to England for university because as a young gay woman I never
felt truly accepted by my country, despite the complete and unconditional acceptance I received from
my family.

“When I moved to Manchester the gay community that I found made me feel empowered and proud to be
gay, I found a home away from home.

“I lived in England when gay marriage was legalised in the Houses of Parliament. The emotion that came
alongside that was overwhelming, now I was able to marry the person that I loved regardless of our sexual orientation.

“A weight was lifted off my shoulders when legally my relationship was considered the same as a heterosexual relationship.”

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But Constance admitted that she had been “embarrassed” after the DUP used the Petition of Concern in
2015 to block the introduction of same-sex marriage here – despite a narrow majority of MLAs voting in
favour of the proposed law.

Describing that decision as “heartbreaking”, she said, “I asked myself, how can I now love and promote
a country that will not accept me as equal?”

Thanking all those who campaigned for the law to be changed,  Constance said she that, once again,
she was “proud to be Northern Irish”.

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