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The first same-sex marriages could take place before the end of the summer

After Saturday’s party, when can we expect another one?

Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 5pm 

JUSTICE MINISTER FRANCES Fitzgerald intends to have the bill giving effect to the same-sex marriage referendum result enacted by the end of July.

The announcement means that the first same-sex marriage ceremonies to take place under the new law could theoretically happen as early as August this year.

In a statement this afternoon, Fitzgerald said the Marriage Bill is currently being drafted and she hopes to bring it before cabinet next month with the aim of having it passed by the Oireachtas before the Dáil goes on summer recess in mid-July.

The bill will then need the signature of the President and may have to be formally enacted. The government actually published the draft scheme of the Marriage Bill 2015 in March. Fitzgerald said today:

I am very conscious that many couples will want to get married as soon as possible. I am working to make that happen.

While there is a statutory three-month notice period required for civil partnerships, that can be converted to a notice of marriage once the legislation is enacted.

“This means that couples who have already registered their intention to enter a civil partnership will be instead able to get married once the law is enacted on the basis of the same registration of intent,” Fitzgerald explained.

Effectively, a couple who have given notice of intent to enter a civil marriage could convert this to a marriage as soon as the legislation is enacted.

Here are a few other things you need to know about the impact of Saturday’s result…

What happens to couples in civil partnerships?

Ireland's gay marriage vote Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The draft legislation provides protection for those in civil partnerships who don’t want to get married – their current status will not change. Also, couples who have registered to enter into civil partnerships will be allowed do that if they choose.

Once the legislation is in place, couples will have to serve a notification of marriage to their local registrar and celebrate a civil ceremony. The marriage will automatically terminate the civil partnership and the transition will be seamless.

Civil partners already paid their notice fee. Will they have to pay again?

It is not yet known, but earlier, former justice minister Alan Shatter said he hoped that the government will make a provision for those couples so that they don’t have to pay twice.

Who can now get married in Ireland?

Gay marriage referendum Jaime Nanci (left) and Michael Barron who were married in Cape Town five years ago at the RDS in Dublin. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Adults over the age of 18 who are not related by blood to a degree that prohibits marriage and are not already married and have given three months notice. The only impediment to marriage changed on Saturday was that partners be of opposite sexes.

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Does my church have to perform marriages for gay people?

No. Head 7 of the bill clearly states that “nothing in the act will be construed as obliging a religious body…to recognise a particular form of marriage”.

Neither will solemnisers registered with the state to perform civil marriage be forced to solemnise a marriage not recognised by their religion.

What about where a spouse changes their gender?

The act will amend the Gender Recognition Bill 2014 to ensure that a change of gender by a spouse would have no effect on a marriage.

What else will change?

In total, 31 sections of acts will be amended, most notably the Army Pensions Act, Mental Treatment Act and Married Women’s Status Act.

Most of these changes will involve changing the word “wife” to “spouse”.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

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