Speaking in a Stormont debate on “Marriage equality” Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim Roy Beggs has spoken against the creation of same-sex marriage, and in support of the existing concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Mr Beggs told the Assembly:
“Marriage is a recognised institution where a religious or civic commitment is voluntarily given between a man and a woman to share their lives and property. A stable household and positive male and female role models are recognised as important in a child’s development. I and many others have very strong views on this matter. The Ulster Unionist Party has recognised this issue as one of conscience, so all members are entitled to vote according to their conscience.
Aside from one’s moral viewpoint on the rights and wrongs of same-sex marriage, I believe that the key issue is the unintended consequences for religious liberty. Any decision to introduce same-sex marriage is likely to have implications for me, for my Church and, indeed, for every religious organisation in Northern Ireland, as well as for an individual’s fundamental freedom of religious expression. It is deeply disturbing that civil and religious liberties in the UK could be threatened by this proposed change. “
Mr Beggs noted that concerns about the proposed change to the definition of marriage have been expressed by the general board of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Church of Ireland General Synod, legal advisers to the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, other Protestant reformed Churches, the Muslim Council of Britain, and Lord Singh, who is head of the Network of Sikh Organisations.
The East Antrim MLA added;
“So, why the concern? At present, a European Court ruling based on the current definition of marriage and of civil partnerships indicates that human rights are met by the status quo.
However, should the definition of marriage be changed, the protection of religious groups to restrict marriage to between a man and a woman is likely to be challenged.
I oppose the creation of same-sex marriage and support the existing concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman.”