There was a letter in the Newry Advertiser this month from a representative of a South Down SDLP branch that echoes all to clearly the ignorance that some Unionists have spouted about marriage equality. In it Sinead Challinor questions a report about Caitriona Ruane talking about Sinn Féin’s backing and indeed intent to get Newry and Mourne Council to debate a motion to support equal marriage.
Here is the letter with some fisking in red by me:
Caitriona Ruane’s call for a stepping up of the campaign for the right of gay people to be married is in my opinion not in keeping with the thinking of the majority of her constituents in South Down. I thought the SDLP rose out of the Civil Rights movement that were standing up for the rights of the Nationalist minority at the time. Strange that now majorities are not so important.
I find there is a justifiable level of acceptance in most of society for all to have a level of equality regardless of whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. One of South Down’s MLAs is Jim Wells who only last month called all those who take part in Pride repugnant. To deny equality is to deny the right to participation in civic society notice the use of civic society at this point and that should be a given right.
But to engage in providing man made laws remember the civic society element above that would sanction and legalise for gay sic (I’m not going to get into the whole Transgender issue here again) marriage is in my opinion a step too far. Marriage is a binding until there is divorce a man made law agreement between a man and a women, an indissoluble D.I.V.O.R.C.E. contract to provide for the begetting sorry to all those unable to beget anyone and maybe end up adopting or who do without children and educating of children now I thought that was what school was for. The natural contract of marriage was raised by Christ himself to the dignity of a sacriment.
Sinn Féin promotion of gay sic marriage legislation is floated without a great deal of thinking and playing the equality trick will not fool as many as they might think. I happen to know a number of unionists, protestants and those of no faith who have met with Sinn Féin over this issue. There has been discussion, there has been thought. Indeed our Northern Ireland co-ordinator Stephen Glenn has been involved of most of the Lib Dem policy on this over the last number of years. Imagine that if it did become law that gay people could marry then our priests, religious ministers amd custodians of Christian principles would be compelled to carry out such meaningless God defying acts. Wow! So much in that last bit. First they would no more be compelled than they are to marry a divoced person, or someone of another faith if they did not want to. Now for someone defining marriage as so important to then say that it is meaningless needs some further explanation. As for God defying there are Christians and others of faith who happen to be gay in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, there are also Churches and other places of worship who want to carry out same-sex marriages., and God enhancing acts. There is also the matter of those with no faith, where the civic element comes in once again, what about civil marriage and those not married in any church?
Now I can’t be too harsh on a member of the SDLP taking such a position on this. Earlier this month Conall McDevitt tried to say that his party was in favour of marriage equality at Belfast Pride’s Pride Talks Back event, only for his leader to knock him back the following day.
Of course the SDLP are not alone on making this a matter of conscience rather than take a policy position on it. The UUP seem to similarly be getting into a right mess on this issue by not knowing where they stand on this issue and all sorts of language errors appear to be embarrassing the party leadership. The Alliance Party will be coming to some sort of conclusion this Saturday. It may be that Sinn Féin have caught the others on the hop on being the first party at Stormont to have a policy on this that moves from the status quo, in much the same way that the Lib Dems in Scotland* along with the Greens got the issue unto the agenda ahead of the 2010 Westminster Election in the other three parts of the UK.
However, there is one thing that Liberal Democrat policy is very strong on. While we want to allow religious same-sex marriage it will only be in those religious settings and within those religious groups that wish to do so. Those people who are LGBT and off faith don’t want to force anyone to do anything on their behalf, they merely want those that welcome them as who they are to have the option to marry them so that God can have meaning in their union, rather than going to some registry office and shutting God out, or worse with the Conservative compromise, sneak into God’s house while he isn’t there to carry out a civil partnership.
* It only managed to become UK wide Liberal Democrat party policy at the September conference in 2010.