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Attitude Pride Awards: The lesbian couple fighting for marriage equality in Northern Ireland

Cara McCann and Amanda McGurk won't stop until their love is fully recognised by the law.

2018-07-06

Cara McCann and Amanda McGurk have been honoured with an Attitude Pride Award for their fight for marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

Despite equal marriage being legal in England, Scotland and Wales as well as the Republic of Ireland and even the Isle of Man, the couple's big day next February will be a civil partnership.

When the Northern Ireland Executive was up and running, it voted five times on the issue of equal marriage. The last time, in November 2015, the vote for equal marriage was won with 53 of the 105 votes.

“But the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] blocked it using a mechanism called a Petition of Concern,” explains Cara. “It’s really meant to be there as a protective mechanism, as part of the Good Friday Agreement, but they’re using it to discriminate.

“At that point, we just thought, ‘I would rather my own country legislate for me, but that’s not going to happen’. The next step was to bring it to London.”

Cara and Amanda decided to fight against the archiac laws of Northern Ireland, and travelled to Westminster in March this year as the face of the Love Equality NI campaign to see two Private Members’ Bills tabled in Parliament.

Although the bills are still in progress and remain long way from receiving Royal Assent - if they get that far, given the DUP's current deal with the Conservative government in Westminster - Cara and Amanda’s efforts, alongside Love Equality NI, are helping to turn the tide. 

“It’s sad,” mourns Cara. “We are losing people because it’s so backwards. LGBT+ people don’t want to stay in their own country.”

Cara and Amanda are set to tie the knot on Valentine's Day next year and, although it won't be recognised as a marriage, they say they simply can't wait any longer for the law to catch up.

 

"My best friend died last July. If we could have been married a couple of years ago, he’d have been standing beside me," explains Cara.

"Why should we have to wait for anyone else that we love to get sick?"

She continues: "The bottom line is that it’s about love. My love for Amanda is no different than the man and women living next door to me.

"But this will happen. It’s probably a long journey ahead of us, but one day, we’ll be married just like them.”

Listen to Cara and Amanda's story below:

Read more about this year's Attitude Pride Award winners interviews in our new August issue, out July 16.