Marriage for same-sex couples will begin in Northern Ireland on Valentine’s Day 2020, if all goes according to plan.
In 2014, marriage equality was legalized in England, Wales, and Scotland, but Northern Ireland still bans it. In July, the House of Commons passed an amendment extending marriage equality to Northern Ireland by October 21 if the Northern Ireland Assembly, which collapsed in 2017, hasn’t resumed.
But government ministers announced earlier this week that they need time for modifications to the law, so marriage equality will start in Northern Ireland on January 13. Since couples who want to get married have to wait 28 days after they submit a notice of intention to marry before they actually get married, the first marriages will happen on Valentine’s Day.
The Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for the Northern Ireland Office Lord Ian Duncan told Pink News: “Get ready for Valentine’s Day, because that is when they can do it. I can think of no better time than Valentine’s Day.”
He said that it’s taking some time to update the legal code to make room for same-sex couples.
“What we have to ensure is that wherever the law mentions ‘husband and wife’ and ‘man and woman’ it has to be corrected to reflect the change,” he said.
“We want to make sure that on that date in January, we don’t miss anything. so we’re working assiduously to ensure that absolute legal certainty is granted, exactly as you would be if you were marrying as a heterosexual couple.”