A Humanist Couple from Northern Ireland Are Going to Court To Have Their Marriage Recognized By Law May 10, 2017

A Humanist Couple from Northern Ireland Are Going to Court To Have Their Marriage Recognized By Law

Irish soccer player Eunan O’Kane and his fiancée, model Laura Lacole, are all set to be married next month, but there’s a big problem: It won’t be legal.

While their marriage would be recognized in Scotland and Ireland, it’s a different story in Northern Ireland, where they live, because the ceremony is going to be conducted by an official from the British Humanist Association. The law says that doesn’t count.


It’s like what we saw in Indiana and Illinois, where weddings performed by Secular Celebrants still needed a signature from a judge to be considered valid. It took lawsuits to overcome those rules so that the government treated Humanist weddings like religious ones. Similarly, Northern Ireland requires couples married by a Humanist officiant to take additional steps to have their relationships recognized by the state.

Lacole is now challenging that law in court.

Ms Lacole’s lawyers claim she is being discriminated against under European laws protecting freedom of belief.

Granting Ms Lacole leave to seek a judicial review at the High Court in Belfast, Mr Justice Colton said it appeared to be an arguable case in which “an important matter of public interest has been raised”.

Proceedings will now advance to a full hearing later this month.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Lacole, who is also vice-chair of Atheist NI, said she and Mr O’Kane wanted to be married in “the same way as any religious person would want to be married, in a ceremony reflective of their beliefs”.

There’s no reason believing in a Higher Power should be a requirement for a marriage license. Best of luck to the couple in overturning that ridiculous rule.

(via the British Humanist Association. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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