First gay marriages take place in Ireland after landmark vote

Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:38am EST
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Richard Dowling and Cormac Gollogly have been together for 12 years, engaged for five, and on Tuesday were finally able to marry when they became the first gay couple to wed in Ireland following a landmark referendum.

Ireland in May became the first country to adopt gay marriage via a popular vote. The backing of the measure by 62 percent of voters signaled a major change in what was once a strongly Catholic and socially conservative society.

After an unsuccessful legal challenge delayed the first weddings, Ireland officially recognized same-sex marriages starting this week, and the couple tied the knot in the southern town of Clonmel early on Tuesday morning.

"We are really delighted to be able to do it. Having a full marriage was important to us so now we can relax and get old together," Dowling, 35, told the Irish Times who posted a video of the couple exchanging their vows on its website.

Mary-Claire Heffernan, the wedding registrar who pronounced the newly weds husband and husband, said they were the first same-sex marriage couple to be married in Ireland.

While anyone registering to marry must give three months' notice, foreign marriages between gay couples became recognized on Monday and those joined in civil partnership under a 2009 law, like Dowling and Gollogly, were able to marry immediately.

Ireland's "Yes" vote in May has had a profound effect on the country's gay community with couples holding hands now a common sight in Dublin while gay politicians have become national celebrities.

Ireland followed several Western European countries including Britain, France and Spain in allowing gay marriage, which is also legal in South Africa, Brazil, Canada and the United States, while homosexuality remains taboo and often illegal in many parts of Africa and Asia.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Richard Dowlin (L), 35, and Cormac Gollogly, 35, leave the South Clonmel Community Care Centre in County Tipperary after getting married, November 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton