Jessica and Niamh

It only took one word to bring Jessica Webbley (30) and Niamh O'Gorman (26) together four years ago. Niamh was a member of the Dublin-based gay choir, Gloria for about six months when Jessica turned up for a first rehearsal. As the session was finishing, Niamh said 'goodbye' to Jessica and a spark ignited between them.

Jessica & Niamh"A few days later we had a Sunday afternoon rehearsal and I plucked up all my courage and asked her if she wanted to go for coffee afterwards," Jessica takes up the story.

"We always go for coffee afterwards, so I thought it was just a general query," says Niamh, "so I was like, 'Yeah we all go, you should come along.' But then I thought to myself, 'What did she actually say?'"

Coffee turned into a two-hour conversation during which the pair discovered many things in common. That turned into several dates and, as these things go, a relationship began to blossom.

"One of the key things that works for us is that we are comfortable with the differences we have. It took us a little while to work those differences out and I don't think we've got it completely sorted yet, but we're learning as we go along.

"The strength or our relationship is in a combination of the things that we share and being able to let each other do different things too."

"What we want out of life, what we see for the future is very similar," adds Niamh.

Because Jessica is a British citizen, the couple will be accessing UK civil partnership legislation and tying the knot later this year, having got engaged in 2007.

"Our provisional plan would be to do it in the British Embassy, so we can be in our own city," says Niamh. "We'll sign the papers there and then move on to another ceremony that will include our family and friends and can be a bit religious, because UK civil partnerships can't."

"If I had a choice, it would be marriage. I appreciate that bringing civil unions in Ireland would be a baby step, that people get used to it and change happens slowly. But I do have this personal feeling that civil partnerships are kind of legislating inequality, which makes me angry."

"Despite the fact that we are having a civil partnership, we use the language of marriage," says Jessica. "We say that we are getting married, we talk about planning our wedding. For us right now, civil partnership is the most official way we can commit to each other. It might be a half-measure towards marriage, but it's not a half-measure in our commitment to each other.

"When I was a teenager, the thing that I found hardest when my classmates were giggling about boys and which one they fancied, was that I couldn't do the same. I understood what they were talking about, I felt exactly the same way, only about girls instead of boys, but I couldn't tell my story. I couldn't share in that fun and joy.

"We feel exactly the same about marriage. Like many other people in the world, we just want to get married, but somehow we're separated from it, even though we feel the same as other people about love and commitment. In an ideal world, why should we go around the houses and create this whole other thing that's different?"