Northern Ireland’s High Court will rule on marriage equality today (17 August).
The ruling could lead to the final part of the UK and Ireland to passing same-sex marriage into law.
Justice O’Hara will rule on two separate cases that were heard together.
In the first case, two couples in civil partnerships – Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane – argued Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage breached their human rights.
The two couples were the first and second in to be joined together in a civil partnership after Northern Ireland made that option available in 2005.
They argue the ban on marriage equality contravenes entitlements to marriage and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
While many people believe civil partnerships and marriage give couples identical rights, they do not. Examples include differences in pension rights and restrictions on rights while traveling abroad.
In the second case, two men married in England in 2014 are attempting to get their union recognized in Northern Ireland.
Their marriage was changed to a civil partnership in law when they moved to Belfast.
Solicitor Ciaran Moynagh said a successful challenge would result in the first ever recognition of a same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
‘This couple took their vows because they believe in the traditional values associated with marriage,’ he said.
‘They see it as the ultimate sign of commitment and best foundation for a family. That’s why having it downgraded to a civil partnership has been so distressing.’
The DUP has repeatedly used a veto to block legislation to pass marriage equality in Northern Ireland.
‘We are confident marriage equality will be achieved in Northern Ireland’.
John O’Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, is backing the couples.
‘Once a couple is lawfully married in the UK, we contend that their relationship cannot be reclassified as a civil partnership without their consent, which is exactly what the law currently does,’ he said.
‘The legislation says to lawfully married people that they are no longer married. This is unconscionable and cannot be permitted to continue.
‘Marriage is a fundamental human right, which is now recognized in the UK as including same-sex couples. We will work to ensure that this right is realized for everyone in the United Kingdom and we are confident that marriage equality will be achieved in Northern Ireland.’
This article was originally published on Gay Star News. Read the original article.