June marriage will ‘make gays proud’

Mark Dineen O’Brien and Jonathan O’Brien have been victims of abuse and are reluctant to be photographed Picture: Jodi Middleton

Mark Dineen O’Brien and Jonathan O’Brien have been victims of abuse and are reluctant to be photographed Picture: Jodi Middleton

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

ONE of the first gay couples to marry in the county say they are proud they will be paving the way for others.

Mark Dineen O’Brien and Jonathan O’Brien will wed in June, three months after same sex marriage becomes law.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act comes into force on March 29.

Under the terms of the law, religious organisations will have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

Mr Dineen O’Brien, 30, and Mr O’Brien, 28, of Eynsham Road, Oxford, will marry at Harkwell House in Iffley village on June 20 – a date which marks their third anniversary as a couple.

The pair were set to have a civil partnership but decided to change to a wedding when the new law emerged.

Mr Dineen O’Brien, a caterer at St Clare’s School in Oxford, said: “I don’t really see what the difference is for us. We are two humans who are in love. Why should we have had different titles than anyone else, just because we are the same sex?

“We know other couples who have had civil partnerships, but I am happy we are going to be one of the first in Oxfordshire and hope it helps others who want to get married.”

Last month, former UKIP councillor David Silvester, of Henley, wrote a letter blaming the legalisation of gay marriage for the storms and floods.

The couple say that despite changes in attitudes, they do still face abuse.

Mr Dineen O’Brien admits it has been hard for the couple, who met on a social media site three years ago.

He said: “It is really hard being a same-sex couple, even now. Sometimes when we are walking down the street and holding hands, people do abuse us and shout horrible things as they drive past or out of their windows.

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“They make such horrible remarks.

“It still happens even now, so we don’t really make a big display of our relationship in public. It is hard when we are in restaurants and you see other people kissing over the table or something and we just don’t feel we can do it.

“I do get quite emotional talking about it.”

The couple are reluctant to be photographed as a result.

Legislation on gay marriage has been welcomed by campaigners Stonewall as an “historic moment for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, their families and their friends”.

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