Same-sex couples can now legally get married in Northern Ireland after the provincial government missed a deadline to prevent the change Monday.
The legalization comes after several convulsive years in the province’s politics, according to CNN. Northern Ireland is typically lead by a joint government of the Unionist and Republican parties, but that arrangement fell apart in 2017 and the government effectively dissolved.
The British Parliament in Westminster stepped in to fill that void and voted in October 2019 to legalize same-sex marriage, with the stipulation that the law would go into effect on January 13, 2020 if the province didn’t reform its government by the end of October. (RELATED: Ireland Fast-Tracks Law Effectively Banning Gas Vehicles)
While same-sex marriage has been legal in England, Scotland and Wales since 2014, Northern Ireland opted not to legalize at the time, according to the BBC. The provincial government in Stormont did narrowly vote to legalize gay marriage in 2015, but the Democratic Unionist Party filed a “petition of concern,” which required reformers to secure a larger majority before it could be passed. The government dissolved before they found that majority.
Gay marriage is the second major social issue the Westminster government has legalized in Northern Ireland, having also voted to legalize abortion in October 2019. The Republic of Ireland legalized abortion by referendum in 2018.