Belfast City Council votes in favour of Same Sex Marriage

Belfast City Councillors voted in favour of Same Sex Marriage last night. The motion which was brought by Alliance Party Councillor, Emmet McDonough-Brown and seconded by Sinn Fein’s Jim McVeigh was passed 38 votes in favour to 13 against. Two councillors from the SDLP group abstained on the vote.

Speaking on his motion Cllr McDonough-Brown said that people who want to be able to commit to each other should be able to and that fundamentally we had a choice to be seen as a tolerant open society or a back water who opposes this change.

Another contribution from the UUP Cllr Jeffrey Dudgeon had a touch of scepticism about this motion and the ability of our politicians to bring in this change as he said to the chamber;

I am not of the view that the legislative change sought will be achieved through Stormont, certainly for a number of years. This motion is not going to change many minds there. I rather expect my learned friends in the High Court and in Strasbourg will again be the vehicle of change.

On the vote break down of councillors who were present.

All Sinn Fein, PUP, Greens, People Before Profit and Alliance voted in favour. 3 UUP Councillors (McGimpsey, Dudgeon and Copeland) supported the motion too. Two SDLP Councillors abstained (Convery and Boyle)m the rest voted in favour.

All DUP councillors voted against, as did the remaining 3 UUP Councillors.

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  • T.E.Lawrence

    Good to see 6 Unionist Councillors for this motion, we could do with more of this type of Unionism within the Assembly !

  • whatif1984true

    If the council cannot change the law, would they not be better off discussing what they can change. Too much spare time or nothing important to attend to?

  • Robin Keogh

    Buladh bos for the Unionist councillors who supported the motion, a flicker of light in the dark pit of traditional politcal unionism.

  • Cosmo

    We know, the DUP is keen for this place to be a world-renowned ‘ backwater’…… any value in it as the new USP for the NITB?

  • the rich get richer

    The first wedding between a Gay Orange Man and Gay Catholic Priest should be a big day out for all.

    Fancy dress as the dress code.

  • Dan

    Would McVeigh be Ok with someone wearing a rainbow scarf in the council chamber?

  • Ernekid

    As a unionist logically you should want legally parity for all citizens of the UK so they really should support equal marriage rights for same sex couples in Northern Ireland

  • Cosmo

    good point.

  • Jim Woods


  • Jim Woods

    If it was put to a referendum it might be the first time a vote takes place that dosn’t match the sectarian attitudes in Northern Ireland.

    It would be interesting to see the poltical parties squirm with this on the table.

  • banana man

    SDLP sending mixed messages on marriage equality yet again. The title Stoop Down Low Party is again a very appropriate description.

  • Carl Mark

    why would he not be OK with that?

  • LordSummerisle

    I take it you do not know who Jeff Dudgeon is ?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I totally agree Ernekid. As a Unionist I want every law applied to all parts of the UK no difference for any region – Equal Marriage Rights – Pro Abortion – No discrimination against Sex Workers – Civil Rights for All !

  • LordSummerisle

    That may be against protocol in the chamber.

  • chrisjones2

    I can just see it now

  • chrisjones2

  • mac tire

    Don’t bother. He’s making a silly point about Ruth Patterson and her Linfield scarf.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I would guess not, two of the six unionist councillors are LGBT.

  • Gerry Lynch

    This is how one builds pressure for a change in the law and against a use of the Petition of Concern.

  • whatif1984true

    This is a party political system. If the party wants it you agree. You do not need to vote at side meetings. This is political posturing.
    I would be happier if they were talking about care for the elderly or resources for the vulnerable, things which they could do something about in a small way.
    So lazy to talk about something you can’t decide or change.

  • chrisjones2

    “So lazy to talk about something you can’t decide or change”

    ………… like care for the elderly or resources for the vulnerable,

    For all the fuss about mergers its still mainly the 5 Bs Bogs, Bins Burials and the others I have forgotten

  • Thomas Girvan

    What about a scarf depicting a gay Linfield supporters club?

  • Andrew

    Absolutely – as a unionist I would love to see unborn children protected and traditional marriage recognised throughout the UK. Civil rights for all!

  • Gaygael

    When did they stop recognising ‘traditional’ marriage?

  • Leo Powers

    Be careful, I think Bungle may have an injunction active on the whole Rainbow saga. Zippy is anatomically blessed with a no comment mechanism and is now in possession of a Comfort letter. Jeffery maintains he was never a member of Rainbow and George can be found selling E cigarettes in Connswater.

  • OpenGoal

    It’s a struggle to identify their high profile MLAs who actually fit the ‘social democratic’ profile. Many are far more comfortable as nationalist, socially conservative, small c catholic reps.

  • bogball88

    Interesting that Ruth Patterson voted against, given her son’s situation

  • Andrew

    … recognised as normative. That stopped with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

  • Carl Mark

    So when you say” Civil rights for all” you actually mean only for people like you!

  • Carl Mark

    are they not all gay?

  • Andrew

    You may be on the wrong thread, Carl. The issue is whether being a unionist would force one to support certain ‘rights’ in NI. My point is that a unionist (with a different concept of rights) could equally well suggest the rest follow a region’s lead on a certain area. This applies whether one agrees or disagrees with a region’s stance.

  • Carl Mark

    of course you want GB to follow NI, well unless the medieval league takes power in Westminster, then that is not going to happen.
    And you claimed you wanted “civil rights for all” then explained that you meant only rights for you.
    no I think I got your point!

  • Carl Mark

    Tell me How did the ; Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, affect any Hetro marriage.
    Nothing was lost by either my partner or myself, our rights stayed the same, my daughters are no less after it than they were before it.
    Extending the right to marry to same sex couples hurt me or you not a bit but was good for many people.
    What is your problem with that?

  • Andrew

    Carl, we seem to have agreed that Ernekid’s point is not very hot, so I am happy to talk on the merits of gay marriage if that is what you want. The difficulty is that the different views stem from deeper commitments on epistemology, our ideas of what it means to be human, ethical values and so on – all of which makes it difficult to get very far without getting very deep. For example, when you say gay marriage is ‘good for many people’ that raises questions of what the good life is, and what the role of the state is in furthering it.
    There are various possible examples of gay marriage negatively impacting others. The most obvious one is that in creating gay marriage society goes from tolerating to approving such relationships, and at least in our society, demanding that approval from other individuals (e.g Ashers or the Adrian Smith case), with all the horrific consequences for free speech that follow. Perhaps ‘gay rights’ could, in a reasonable society, be created without negatively impacting the civil rights of others: that certainly is not the case in the UK.

  • Carl Mark

    I wonder where you could point out were I even hinted that Ernekids point “was not very hot” cant remember doing that!
    as to what the good life is ! I don’t know never used those words.
    I meant that it is good that two people in love and in a stable relationship can Marry, It is obvious that most people already approve (note approve not tolerate) of gay marriage, the state is doing what the electorate want it to do this is how a democracy works.
    as for Asher’s, well the law has ruled on that, again society will not let you discriminate against people because of colour, religion, Gender etc., and it will not allow you to discriminate against people because of sexuality.
    Now apart from a woolly bit were you claimed that somehow Gay Marriage somehow was harmful to Hetro marriage (what do you mean by normative) and a call for legalised discrimmation could you perhaps give me some hard facts regarding the detrimental effects it has had.

  • Andrew

    Apologies if you do, in fact, agree with Ernekid. In that case the questions remain:
    i) why, in a devolved settlement, can a unionist not live with regional variations of policy?
    ii) where there are regional differences on non-constitutional issues, why would a unionist have to choose option A rather than option B? How would unionism, rather then the merits of the case, drive his choice?

  • Carl Mark

    Of course they may, but it goes against the spirit of what everybody (scotch, English, welsh) but a few mediviel types want, but your contradictory statements need explaining, here they vare again

    “Absolutely – as a unionist I would love to see unborn children protected and traditional marriage recognised throughout the UK. Civil rights for all!”
    and then you claim that civil rights for all means just people like you.
    Now I note that you have not answered my question, What harm did gay marriage do to your or my marriage! also could you explain your use of normative to express how you want your marriage recognised.
    Is your marriage somehow not normal, was it gay marriage that caused this, how did this happen?

  • Andrew

    Great – if you accept one ‘may’ think that way, I think we have agreed that Ernekid’s comment is not logically compelling. . If that is settled we can move on to your claim that gay rights legislation does no one any harm.

    The Asher’s case is a specific, easy-accessed example of how gay rights legislation has negatively impacted others. To answer that the negative impact is legally sanctioned is exactly the point!

    For a different attack on free speech, check these –

    But if you prefer examples where the law has finally protected religious minorities, check out these.

    The Adrian Smith case (note how even Peter Tatchell agrees with me!)

    Or this one

    And so we could go on. But you can probably google as well as me if you are genuinely interested. While you seem to believe such treatment of religious minorities to be justified, you can hardly deny that gay rights legislation has had a negative impact on them, even if you think that they had it coming, or that free speech is an only a minor civil right.

  • Carl Mark

    By your argument then the race equality laws discriminated against racists.
    put simply, in a civilised country no one should have the right to refuse service to someone because of what they are.
    Asher’s broke the law, we have seen in the past the harm that discrimmation does both to individuals and society , the history of this place is filled with it and it has harmed us greatly.
    But why limit this conscience thing to Gay people, there are people out there who believe that god doesn’t want the races to mix, or he hates Muslims or Catholics do you want to allow them to practice their deeply held religious beliefs.
    Now I am still waiting to hear how it stops your (or my) marriage being “normative” , third time I have asked that and still no answer!

  • Andrew

    “By your argument then the race equality laws discriminated against racists”.

    Yes. But then I don’t make claims that such laws do not have negative impacts. I am just asking that you withdraw your claim that gay rights legislation does not negatively impact on others; we can disagree on whether that is justified.

    “But why limit this conscience thing to Gay people, there are people out there who believe that god doesn’t want the races to mix, or he hates Muslims or Catholics do you want to allow them to practice their deeply held religious beliefs”.

    Yes. Free speech means allowing views one disagrees with.

    “Now I am still waiting to hear how it stops your (or my) marriage being “normative” , third time I have asked that and still no answer”.

    I am afraid I don’t understand the difficulty. Here is Wiki’s explanation of what the word normative means Isn’t the whole point of gay marriage that it is being treated equal with the more traditional variety? That means the more traditional variety is not regarded as normative (i.e. better, the ideal, the standard, etc.)

  • Carl Mark

    so you think that people should have the right to discriminate against another person or group of people , well I suppose as long as you are not part of the group being discriminated against that might seem ok.
    Is Bullying cool as well, do bully’s have the right to bully.
    And are you not confusing the Asher’s case with free speech, that cant be right we have all heard them stating their case in the media!
    Within reason Racists and bigots have the right to state their case but they do not have the right to mistreat people they disapprove of.
    As regards to Normative, so do we take Britney’s two week event as more “normative” than a loving stable gay couples marriage.
    you still haven’t answered my question, how has your or my marriage been reduced in any way by gay marriage, how (considering the failure rate) is hetro marriage any more ideal or better (the standard just means more people are in hetro marriages than Gay ones) you really need to flesh out these claims or they just remain claims.

  • Andrew

    Thanks. You will note I have only made two claims – i) that nothing in unionism compels a unionist to support gay marriage ii) that gay rights legislation has a negative (though, to some, justified) impact on others.
    The first claim we have (eventually) agreed on. I have supplied numerous specific examples to substantiate the second, and await your response.
    I have made no claims about the wellbeing of my marriage; in fact, I have not even claimed to be married! I am happy to agree with your other point that (heterosexual) marriage has long been undermined both by legislation and the behaviour of married people.

  • Carl Mark

    so tell me do you think the law on assault has a negative effect on thugs?
    stopping someone from discrimmation against another person is not a negative effect on the bigot any more that stopping a thug from beating someone has a negative effect on the thug!
    what have we agreed on, if you mean Ernekids statement then no we do not agree (I do wish you would stop these attempts at mind reading, they are not working), try this.
    to save the union it will help a great deal if the British (the ones on the big island) think that NI is worth holding onto.
    Homophobia (and its siblings racism and sectarianism) are most definitely not things that the British (those on the big island) want to keep.
    Now you have the right have the opinion on Gay marriage that you hold but if you think that it help the unionist cause in any way then you are greatly mistaken, that I believe was what Ernekid meant.
    I apologise for assuming that you were married, it was wrong of me to assume that you had some experience of the subject in hand but could you explain please ,how does Gays being able to marry affect the marriage of straight people.

  • Andrew

    Carl, I think I will make this my last post. This is a pity since it is good to encounter someone who feels strongly about something. But we are just going round in circles, and from my perspective, you seem either unwillingly or unable to understand/engage with other points of view (perhaps you will say the same of me!).

    Ernekid says unionism makes it “logically necessary” to support gay marriage. I give two flaws in this claim. In your 5th comment you agree that a unionist “may” indeed oppose gay marriage, though it would be unpopular. You have also not disputed either of the two reasons I gave. But here we are, some days later with you again saying that you agree with ErneKid.

    To answer your question (which we have done under different examples several times already) you ask “So tell me do you think the law on assault has a negative effect on thugs?”
    The answer, rather obviously is yes. That is the whole point such laws!
    Two other points: I have never made any claims about the wellbeing of any individual marriage, so repeatedly demanding I explain this is peculiar, if not ill mannered. Again it suggests to me an inability to interact with other points of views. The only passing comment I made was that gay marriage changes the unique legal status of heterosexual marriage. This is not controversial, or something you need to dispute – it is the whole pint of gay marriage (proponents call it “equality”)!
    If, for some reason, you want to consider the impact of gay marriage on heterosexual marriage, I suppose it contributes to the concept that marriage (and words) can be changed as we please: i.e. that it is not a given (as some people view human rights/fairness as a given which we should try to live up to, rather than something governments make up at their whim). So in a difficult patch, someone might well wonder why they can’t redefine their marriage to make things easier. What is so special about fidelity or ‘sickness and health’ or “till death do us part”? Why the discrimination against loving. committed multi-person relationships? But this is just speculation: someone might equally well laugh at the silliness of the whole farce, or a Christian might think that building really good strong marriages is the best counterpoint to the whole parody.
    In conclusion, I have both gay and Christian family members, and I love them both. My concern is that we are simply replacing one oppressed group with another? Why can’t we just live and let live?