Billy M. Desmond and Dr. Bernárd J. Lynch were married before more than 180 guests on January 27 at the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point — the first gay male wedding to be registered in County Clare, Ireland.
Desmond, a psychotherapist, and Lynch, a retired Roman Catholic priest and psychotherapist, reside in London as well as Lehinch in Clare. They have been together for more than 20 years.
Their relationship was first blessed in a public ceremony in London in 1998 by their late friend, Father Dan Kelliher, OCSO, a Trappist monk from the monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, at a time when same-sex marriages were not legally recognized. In 2007, they had a civil partnership ceremony in Camden Town Hall in London.
I had the honor of opening the ceremony, noting that by their activism and example they had contributed to making Ireland the first country in the world to open marriage to gay couples by referendum, in May 2015, a matter of just weeks before the US Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a right nationwide in America.
After the wedding ceremony, a proclamation from the New York City Council was presented to Lynch honoring his more than 40 years of service and gay activism. Out gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens, who worked with Lynch in Dignity/ New York in the 1970s, sent a video message praising his work “worldwide,” particularly his development in New York of “an AIDS ministry when some people would not even go near people living with HIV/AIDS.”
A few days after the wedding, Lynch and Desmond were honored guests of the Irish President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, his official residence.
With the support of their friends and family, Lynch and Desmond have established an organization called Bronntanas to further the mental health and well-being of Irish LGBTQI people, particularly in rural communities. More information can be found at bronntanas.org.