Monday 13th February 2017
First and foremost, I must point out that I am a born again Christian and my faith and church are precious to me. However, I believe that the single most important part of being a Christian is showing love, compassion and respect to all people.
My party, the UUP, allow its members freedom of conscience on Same Sex Marriage (SSM) and other moral issues, and I believe that this provides the foundation for dealing with potentially contentious issues with respect. Sadly, on this issue, both sides of the argument have proponents who are guilty of using language and a tone of discussion which has only driven a barrier between those on either side.
Let me be clear, I do not oppose the rights of any two consenting adults who wish to live together in whatever bond brings them happiness, regardless of sexual orientation. However as I stated at the beginning my own faith and love of my church means that I believe Churches and other faith based groups should be protected if they maintain that SSM would be contrary to their core teachings.
To date, any discussions regarding possible legislation for SSM have, in my opinion, fallen short of adequately incorporating the need to protect groups of faith. Under the full remit of equality an individual’s right to religious freedom must be afforded parity with rights to sexuality and right to marry. My time in Stormont has been short so far and in this period no legislation or motion has been proposed or tabled.
With regard to the petition of concern (POC), and as a democrat, I actually do not support its use in this regard. I believe that democracy should prevail and the POC should only be used in exceptional circumstances, as was the original intention.