BELFAST, October 10 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Legislative Assembly of Northern Ireland rejected on October 1 a move to install “gay marriage” in the province. The private member’s motion was put forward by the far-left Green Party and republican party Sinn Fein. The Green’s only representative in Stormont, Steven Agnew, said it would be message to homosexuals that “we see their love as equal”.
The motion was soundly defeated by the dominant Democratic Unionists (DUP), only three of whose 45 members voted in favour. 45 of the total of 95 Members, 47.37 per cent, voted in favour, including 37 Nationalists, 3 DUP, and 5 “others” according to the government’s information.
The motion could not have made a change in the marriage law that has to be ratified in the province by Westminster. But the BBC and other observers noted that had it passed, it would have increased pressure in Stormont to accept a change in the law when it is proposed in the English parliament.
Michelle McIlveen of the DUP said it is “simply a myth that this is an equality issue”. “Everyone is free to marry,” she said.
Roy Beggs of the Ulster Unionist Party echoed the warnings of many religious leaders in Britain when he said, “Civil and religious liberties across the UK could be affected by this decision.”
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Jim Allister of the Traditional Unionist Voice party said “This is not a matter about equality, this is a matter of the perversion of marriage.” Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, (DUP) said there is “no widespread demand” for “gay marriage” among the public. He said he was flatly opposed, and added that his was “the general view that is held in this society”.
Agnew, and supporters Rev. Chris Hudson of All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and Canon Charles Kenny, Secretary of the Church of Ireland (Anglican) group, Changing Attitudes Ireland, said the motion was a matter of religious freedom, saying that homosexual partners “of faith” were being barred from a right that heterosexual couples enjoyed.
“As the law stands at the moment, a couple without faith can get married in a church while a devoutly religious couple of the same sex cannot,” Agnew said. “That is actually denying rights and religious freedoms to gay Christians.”
“If we want to ensure equality of rights, then same sex couples should be a afforded the right to marry and have a religious ceremony if their church is willing to perform it.
“Whether a religious institution performs same sex marriage ceremonies is a matter for the church involved, not the state.”
He added, “This is actually an extension of rights to religious institutions to make their own decisions on this issue.”
A letter on the motion from the Presbyterian church said it was “not merely an issue of conscience for Christian people and churches, but a very significant one for the whole of society”. It said gay marriage would “effectively demolish generations and centuries of societal norms established on Judeo-Christian values.”