MLAs reject same-sex marriage motion

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MLAs rejected a motion calling for new legislation for same-sex marriage , on 29 April 2014.

The DUP had issued a petition of concern, meaning the motion required cross-community support.

Sinn Fein's Megan Fearon, who co-sponsored the proposal, said equality was an "absolute necessity" and diversity and inclusivity "should be our cornerstone".

"Gay people aren't looking for any more rights than straight people already have, they just want equal rights," she said.

Ms Fearon also described as "insulting" the idea that a child needs a mother and a father "to have some sort of wholesome upbringing".

The DUP's Paul Givan accused Sinn Fein of using the motion as "a weapon to attack those who oppose their perverse interpretation of equality".

He also said the motion "prioritises the demands of adults over the needs of children".

Mr Givan said marriage was a devolved issue on which Stormont could legislate and any judicial activism would be "a gross abuse" of that office and "a serious and fatal blow to the democratic legitimacy of the Northern Ireland Assembly".

The SDLP's Colum Eastwood said it was not a nationalist or unionist issue and polls show a "year-on-year increase in support" for marriage equality.

"I believe strongly in marriage and I believe two people who love each other and are committed should be afforded recognition by the state," he said.

The UUP's Michael Copeland said he had been approached by young gay people who were "driven almost to the point of suicide".

The East Belfast MLA said he did not "know the moral rights and wrongs of this, but I know that the words we use in this chamber will echo - reinforcing prejudice, or not reinforcing prejudice."

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle, supporting the motion, said he took seriously his role as a public representative and as such had to "ensure equality under the law for all citizens".

He said those who defined marriage as between a man and a woman could "still survive and thrive within this framework".

NI21's Basil McCrea said he thought it was "really, really wrong that we allow personal morals to affect what is a legislative decision".

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