Catholic priest from Co Clare marries long-time boyfriend

‘Our Right to Love is our Right to Justice – Billy and Bernard’

The marriage of Fr Bernárd Lynch and Billy Desmond took place in the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Co Clare. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

The marriage of Fr Bernárd Lynch and Billy Desmond took place in the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point, Co Clare. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

 

A Catholic priest from Co Clare – who was involved in the first “boat to vote” campaign during the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 – has married his long-time partner.

At the Armada Hotel at Spanish Point on Friday, 120 well-wishers watched Fr Bernárd Lynch tie the knot with Billy Desmond. There was large applause in the room after the two were pronounced “husband and husband”.

Fr Lynch – who grew up in Ennis in the 1950s – became the first Catholic priest in the world to have a civil partnership when the two men became civil partners in 2006.

The eight-page booklet for Friday’s ceremony was entitled, Our Right to Love is our Right to Justice – Billy and Bernárd.

At the ceremony, a proclamation was read out paying tribute to Fr Lynch “for being a a tireless advocate for the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people for more than 30 years as an out gay and proud Roman Catholic priest”.

Fr Lynch first came out as a gay man in 1986 when he was ministering in New York City. In a press interview at the time, he said: “If I did lie, if I did pretend, I’d have a job. I could even have a lover on the side . . . I didn’t come out publicly until 1986. As soon as I went public, I lost my job.”