Same-sex marriage campaigners in Northern Ireland are to launch legal action against alleged changes to equal marriage commitments by government ministers.
Same-sex partners will be able to get married in Northern Ireland from Valentines Day (February 14) next year.
Initially, couples who already have civil partnerships were promised that they would be able to convert to full married status in the New Year under official proposals.
UK parliament forced Northern Ireland to change this last month and more public consultation by the government is due to clarify issues.
Cara McCann, who entered a civil partnership with her partner Amanda McGurk earlier this year, said: “Just a few weeks ago, I sat in a room in Stormont House with government ministers and officials and was told that I could become a married woman in the New Year.
“Now the government has changed its mind.
“Our campaign for equal marriage has always been about rejecting second-class citizenship. We have already won our campaign in parliament.
“Now we will go to court to ensure the government does not escape its legal obligation.”
The ban on same-sex marriage and abortion rights was lifted at midnight on October 22 just over a year after the 8th amendment was repealed in the Republic of Ireland.
On this historic day for Northern Ireland, we spoke to the campaigners who made it possible
In July, Parliament voted to pass the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act, which obliges the Government to act if the devolved Northern Ireland Executive has not been re-established by October 21 2019.
Taking the legal challenge against the Government are a same-sex couple in a civil partnership, two Christian couples and a Christian minister.
Ciaran Moynagh, the solicitor representing them, said: “The government made a commitment to equal access to marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland.
“Current proposals do not deliver on that commitment.
“My clients feel they have no choice but to take this action for themselves and on behalf of many others who face the prospect of continued inequality of treatment.”
Amnesty International Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said the Government seemed set on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
He said: “Our campaign is not over until everyone is equal. No-one will be left behind.
“That means same-sex couples in civil partnerships and religious couples must be able to marry on an equal basis while ensuring that freedom of religion is properly protected for all.”
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