On November 16, Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald will sign the commencement order putting into effect the new Marriage Act 2015, allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The act was signed into law last Thursday by the Presidential Commission, as President Michael D Higgins was on an official visit to the United States.

Marriage between same-sex couples will now be recognized by the State and have the same status under the Constitution as marriage between heterosexual couples.

A new sentence has been added to Article 41 of the Constitution, reading: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

Starting November 16, same-sex couples who married abroad will have their marriages recognized automatically by the State, and there will be no further civil partnerships, the Irish Times reports.

Existing civil partnerships will retain that status, but if they chose to marry their civil partnership will be dissolved. There will be no automatic “upgrade” from civil partnership to marriage, and any change in status will require a ceremony before a registrar.

The law also states that priests and other religious solemnizers will not be obliged to solemnize the marriage of a same-sex couple.

Brian Sheehan, co-director of the Yes Equality Campaign, said the result of the Irish referendum had given “an extraordinary lift to LGBT activists all across Europe”.

He said people from countries where gay people continue to experience oppression were “anxious to express their thanks [to the Irish people] and to say the vote has given them courage and energy.”

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