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Same-sex marriage is coming to Northern Ireland. That was the message which a pioneering New York legislator brought to Belfast during a keynote speech to campaigners in Belfast.

New York Assembly Member Daniel J O’Donnell, who secured passage of an equal marriage law by both the State Assembly and Senate in June 2011, told his Northern Ireland audience that same-sex marriage is now inevitable in Northern Ireland. Love Equality invited Assembly Member O’Donnell to make the keynote address to campaigners for the event How the US was won!

O’Donnell led the fight for same-sex marriage in New York, first introducing the Marriage Equality bill in 2007, then again – twice – in 2009, before finally getting the law passed in 2011. Equal marriage was made legal across the United States on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled that State bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

“We came through the same battles for marriage equality in the United States which Northern Ireland now faces. And just as surely as we succeeded, so equality campaigners will win in Northern Ireland too.

“With same-sex marriage now commonplace in the rest of the United Kingdom, with it about to become law in the Republic of Ireland, and with most people in Northern Ireland supportive of its introduction here, it is now only a matter of time before gay couples can get married here too.”

O’Donnell was the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly and in January 2012, O’Donnell married his partner of 31 years, John Banta.