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Sunday 25 August 2019

Equality is about 'personal stories', says Burton

Joan Burton, right, with Orla and Nicola Malone Leonard and their sons Harry (3) and James (six months)
Joan Burton, right, with Orla and Nicola Malone Leonard and their sons Harry (3) and James (six months)
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

The scene was a cosy one - the living room of a family home with books and photographs on the shelves, a toddler emptying toys out onto the floor and a baby snoring amid blissful peace - as Joan Burton sat beside him and spoke at length.

It was an unusually intimate setting for a press conference, to be sure - but the Tánaiste explained that at the end of the day marriage equality is about "personal stories up, down and across the country".

With the new legislation to be enshrined in law as from midnight tonight, Nicola and Orla Malone Leonard and their sons Harry (3) and six-months-old James opened the doors of their home in East Wall, Dublin to explain what the new change will mean to them.

The family appears in a new Labour video, which will be shown online.

"We've never done anything like that before but we got a real feel-good experience," said Orla about appearing in the video.

Ms Burton explained that they had come to their home to highlight "the ordinary and the extraordinary" lives that are affected by the new legislation.

Teacher Orla said that the video was the final step in 'coming out' in a professional context.

"I had to be very careful with the parents and with the children and I've made a decision starting with this," she said.

In an equally 'traditional' career as a nurse, Nicola said people would not necessarily have come out in a professional context but that she had also received nothing but goodwill from people.

The couple met online on a blind date in 2006 and hit it off "immediately".

In their 10 years together, they have been through a lot - buying houses, family tragedies and births - "you see the whole spectrum," Nicola said.

They got engaged six years ago on a train in Austria and are thinking of getting married next year to mark 10 years together.

"Now the next thing is getting married and it's good timing for us because it's there to do it," said Orla.

Getting married is important, particularly for their children, and it will give them confidence "as a family", the couple both said.

Irish Independent

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