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Ciaran Moynagh, the solicitor in Petition X, was “quietly confident” during the week.

Shortly after the judgment, he said the judgment had “got everyone by surprise”.

There have been five attempts to pass marriage equality in Northern Ireland through the Assembly.

An attempt in November 2015 was supported by a majority of representatives – 53 in favour and 51 against – but vetoed by the DUP using a “petition of concern” mechanism.

The male couple, who were granted anonymity in the case, married in England in 2014, yet their marriage can only be classified as a civil partnership in Northern Ireland.

Recognition of their marriage could have created an argument for recognition of all same-sex marriages in the North, and therefore undermine the ban on same-sex marriages taking place in Northern Ireland.

One case was taken by two couples in civil partnerships, Gráinne Close and Shannon Sickles, and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kane, claiming that their rights were being breached by Northern Ireland’s prohibition of same-sex marriage, in contravention of the entitlement to marriage and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

A win for anybody is a win for all of us.” But those “wins” didn’t materialise.Yet they run the risk of alienating young Protestant voters, who feel at odds with the party’s socially conservative stance.In a post-election survey this year, 63 per cent of Protestant voters under 40 declared themselves in favour of same-sex marriage, and 72 per cent of Protestant non-voters under 40 were in favour.Moynagh believes that in asking for recognition of an existing marriage, they had pitched a decent case.He interprets the judgment as the judge saying same-sex marriage is social policy, and that it’s up to government, not the courts, to make that. ” After the judgment, that frustration was compounded. We don’t have a devolved government that’s working – even though they’re still drawing their salaries – but we haven’t fallen back into a situation where we have direct rule.

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