NORTHERN IRELAND: Assembly Approves Same-Sex Marriage But Motion Is Blocked By Unionists

The Northern Ireland Assembly approved same-sex marriage this morning with a very slim majority vote, but the motion failed due to a “petition of concern” presented by the Democratic Unionists Party. DUP1 DUP2

The bill was opposed in an open letter issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference. An excerpt:

We wish to express our particular concern that the motion presented provides no detail whatsoever of the scale or scope of the legislation being proposed. It is also completely silent on the vital issue of respect for individual religious conscience and protections for Churches and other religious groups. Those who vote in favour of this motion have no way of knowing what the full consequences of such a vote will be. What will be the impact for services provided by Churches and other faith groups that offer vital support to marriages and families in all kinds of distress and thereby contribute to the well-being of children and society? The failure of legislators to provide any form of protection for Catholic Church-related adoption agencies that have had to close in recent years is a stark warning to all who value the wide range of social and pastoral services that Churches provide. The motion being debated in the Assembly fails completely to protect the future of these services and their right to operate within the religious ethos from which they were founded and continue to provide a valued service to communities.

  • Baltimatt

    Of course, a ban on same-sex marriage shows no concern for “respect for individual religious conscience”. Phonies!

  • Baltimatt

    Not that familiar with Northern Ireland politics, but wouldn’t Unionists tend to be Protestant and not that concerned about what the Catholic Bishops say, or is this politics/homophobia making strange bedfellows?

    • Anti-gay politics has always got religious groups who normally
      hate each other to work together, they oppose gay people enough to set aside their religious differences just for a moment. And then they go right back to not liking each other.

      • TuuxKabin

        It’s like the cooperation collusion between the mormons and the catholics on Prop 8. A truly inspiring moment of ecumenism.

      • William

        Has Mitt Romney thought of running for office there?

    • Hína Kemenduro

      The Unionists are right-wing nut-jobs similar to the KKK if the KKK were to have a political wing/party. Both groups self-identify as Christian, but neither is even remotely so.

      • GC

        Unfortunately the Bible gives as much support to rabid hateful RWNJs as it does to kinder, gentler, “mainstream” Christians. (Ditto for quite a few other religions’ scriptures and foundational teachings.)
        More on the Bible, the Quran, and the Book of Mormon: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/

  • Lumpy Gaga

    The failure of legislators to provide any form of protection for
    Catholic Church-related adoption agencies that have had to close in
    recent years

    I must have missed that news story about that time when a rainbow gun got held to their collective heads and forced them to close.

    • Herald

      The way I remember it is they had a fit when they could not discriminate and still get Government $ so they packed up and left in a huff.

    • Stev84

      Any organization with such a massive history of abuse should not be in the adoption business in the first place

      • rusty57

        And there is that.

    • clay

      If they’ve already closed, why are they any concern at all?

      • Harley

        Why would they close when the Catholic corporation takes in million in tax free dollars.

    • ChrisMorley

      They are referring to that den of secular LGBT rights (of iniquity, the Irish Bishops’ say), that is Great Britain.

      Our Equality Commission said catholic adoption agencies discriminating by refusing to consider LGBT couples as adopting parents was plainly illegal discrimination on the basis of sexuality. The Courts supported those decisions. The Bishops LOST and that must never happen again in the other remaining part of the UK.

  • Michael Smith

    So the motion fails even though a majority voted for it? Sounds like Northern Ireland’s Assembly took lessons from our Senate.

  • Blake Jordan

    How does one party get to block the majorities decision on an issue?
    What is the point of voting?

    • i know, right? it’s the same kind of bullshit in our Senate. but here, Republicans when they have even a slim majority, find ways around it. and when Dems are a majority, even a controlling majority, they find all sorts of excuses for why “there aren’t enough votes” and keep progressive bills in limbo. it’s sickening and a travesty of democracy.

  • Baron Ochs

    wouldn’t that be “anti-unionist”?

  • Blake Jordan

    Is it supposed to be ironic that the Northern Irish Catholic Church is concerned about the well-being of children?

    • Prion

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    • yeruncle

      It wasn’t the Catholic Church who harpooned this, it was the protestant fundamentalist Democratic Unionist Party. Nationalist (Catholic) political parties all support equality.

  • Sam_Handwich

    FYI

    any vote taken by the Assembly can be made dependent on cross-community support if a petition of concern is presented to the Speaker. A petition of concern may be brought by 30 or more MLAs.[32] In such cases, a vote on proposed legislation will only pass if supported by a weighted majority (60%) of members voting, including at least 40% of each of the nationalist and unionist designations present and voting. Effectively this means that, provided enough MLAs from a given community agree, that community (or a sufficiently large party in that community) can exercise a veto over the Assembly’s decisions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_Assembly

    • need 60% and only have 50.5% so still a ways to go. thanks for posting that breakdown

      • Sam_Handwich

        i believe the biggest hurdle here is that one of the unionist parties voted only 7% in favor …. this parliamentary tactic requires that each party votes at least 40% in favor.

  • Jimmie Z
    • Sam_Handwich

      she seems nice

    • Is that Maggie Gulagher?

    • Craig Howell

      Heavens! What is that from, and what is the context?

  • Gustav2

    I can’t believe the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and Northern Ireland is still allowed to remain in the baby stealing and selling business.

  • bryan

    If I am not mistaken the DUP is lead by fundamentalist Peter Robinson, whose wife called gay people an abomination, whilst she was having sex with a boy old enough to be her son, and helping him out financially. But this is a loss for the DUP. Since they are now seen as the only obstacle for equality.

  • Mark

    And my goto to help release the anger … and hurt.

    BTW – took me forever to figure Yoko opening the shutters…let in the light…and come join me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ72bYyEtBg

    • Without a doubt one of the most important “message” songs ever written. A message that needs to be heard now more than ever. Between this song and the ideals of Star Trek’s Gene Rodenberry, the world could be a much better place, if only we could grow up.

      • Harshan

        I have always found that song terrifying, because it essentially says, “Imagine if we are all extinguished upon death,” or “imagine if all the people you love, who have died, have no existence any longer.” That’s NOT a wonderful thing. Not having religion is one thing; not having an existence is another. If I’m going to wish for something, I’d wish for everyone to be transformed and reconciled so that we can all live together forever.

        • I can see how it could be terrifying, but what it tells me is to live for today, don’t want for happiness and enjoyment in the afterlife.

          “Learn as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die tomorrow.”

          • Harshan

            There are people, like me, who have lived through adversity and hardship, and come to the end hoping that there might be some love and justice to come. At least there is a thin possibility, but this song’s world quashes all hope, flattens me into total nothingness, eliminates all vindication, and removes any possibility of seeing my loved ones restored after hideous deaths. I already had a hard life, do I really need hopelessness now? This song, Imagine, is the most hopeless, deflating, and terrifying song I have ever heard. When I hear this song, I turn it off or leave. I need whatever thin shred of hope I have.

  • Gerry Fisher

    Grrrrrrrr! And not in a good way.

  • Mark

    “and their right to operate within the religious ethos from which they
    were founded and continue to provide a valued service to communities.”

    Isn’t that pretty much the same “ethos” as the KKK?

  • Harshan

    If they want to know the consequences and the repercussions of same-sex marriage, there’s nothing to wonder about. They can ask England, Scotland, and Wales.

    • But they don’t because opposition isn’t based in actual concern about marriage and families but rather the desire to promote a certain religious
      ideology. It doesn’t matter how many times it has happened without the sky
      falling, they still oppose it.

      • GC

        Bingo! To them the religious ideology finding less support and less privilege in the real world is itself a horrible thing.

      • Harshan

        We know it, they know it, but it’s best to take their words at face value, call their bluff, and reduce their position to the absurd. Reduction to the absurd is the quickest way to win an argument.

        Right now you only have one argument, If you bring in all this other stuff (even though it is true), then you are effectively fighting the war on ten fronts.

    • And indeed Eire.

      • Harshan

        I didn’t mention them because they don’t have any experience yet.

        • That is true; but by the next time the issue comes before the Stormont parliament, they will have.

  • Mihangel apYrs

    DUP in bed with the RCC – you couldn’t make it up.

    My hope is that this will finally demonstrate the lack of democracy at Stormont

    • grada3784

      DUP and RCC – queer for each other.

  • DaveMiller135

    It’s all fun and games, until someone else’s individual conscience gets respected.

  • Luis De California

    Gay marriage will arrive there someday, but no telling when. There are marriage court cases pending November/December, but even if the eventual decision is in favor the main will keep appealing (some old pro-gay verdicts are still being fought today). There seem to be roadblocks everywhere, absolutely no idea when NI could get it… 🙁

    • Gene

      Westminster has made its thoughts known on this, and the courts will get involved (already are in fact, as you point out). the right ruling will come in due time…when it does, considering the national government is pissed about this, can they expedite it to the highest level to get it done? whats the procedure for this? The UK is the only nation on earth without a written constitution, and I admit I am not sure how this would be done, but, I think it can be. any thoughts Luis?

      • Dazzer

        Basically, the DUP will appeal any pro-equal marriage ruling all the way up to the Supreme Court, and when they lose there, they’ll appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and they’ll lose there, too.

        Essentially, the DUP is going to spend millions of other people’s money to lose their case and be forced to bring in equal marriage some time in the next five to ten years.

        • Gene

          thanks Dazzer. how..depressing. The majority of the regional assembly…the majority of both the catholic and protestant populations, and thus the majority of the population overall, the national government in London, ALL want marriage equality, but a small minority of fanatical Protestants and some Catholic bishops have used a loophole designed to protect the religious minority (Catholics) is used to attack the rights of GLBT people….its, sickening. and it will take time and a fortune to correct. have I pretty much grasped the situation?

        • Robert Pierce

          Exactly right. Its coming whether the DUP like it or not.

    • grada3784

      Considering they were fighting a war from 1690 not long ago, I suspect it will be a while.

  • Ah, yes. The cat-o-licks. Shocked.

    • Luis De California

      The Protestant Assemblymen. The Catholic ones vote Yes en masse.

      This is one of the few times the Catholic Church will get along with some (hardcore) Protestants there.

      • The bill was opposed in an open letter issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference. An excerpt:

        • Luis De California

          I was referring to the Assembly itself. When you said Catholics I assumed you meant everyone voting, not only the Church itself.

          • I was referring to the Catholic Church and the hate they continue to spew.

    • GC

      I’ll take true cat-o-licks without all the hateful dogma:

  • TexasBoy

    What?! Religion trying to impose itself through the rule of law?! Who would’ve believed it….oh, wait.

  • TampaZeke

    Conservatives: Democracy is great until it isn’t. We decide when it’s one and when it’s the other.

  • Robert Pierce

    Now let the courts finally decide.

    • GC

      If the judges aren’t theocrats….

  • Sean

    That’s the same Irish Catholic Cult that was selling Irish babies to heterosexual Catholic American couples & forced the birth mothers into slavery.

    • Octavio

      That be the very same one.

  • GayOldLady

    Because nothing says catholic like the history of the catholic church and it’s treatment of children in catholic institutions.

    • I have great respect for LGBT people of faith. I feel it’s their choice, of course. However, I will never understand how they justify giving money to churches that continue to use that money to oppress them or attend services with homilies and sermons that are advertisements for LGBT hate campaigns.

      • GayOldLady

        Catholics are indoctrinated from birth to stay with the church, to believe it is the one true faith, even when it fails them. They are taught that the church is from god, not from it’s leaders, who are all men, therefore if they abandon the church, they abandon god. Abandoning god means eternal punishment and there’s nothing stronger than the fear of eternal damnation to make people walk in lockstep. I know this well having spent a good portion of my life tied up in the delusion that is Catholicism. I was afraid to allow myself to think outside of the box, a box that my mind had been conditioned from childhood to believe was TRUTH! Just the fact that there are women, who have for centuries been relegated to the status of second class, subservient members, yet they still practice Catholicism, is proof that the indoctrination is extraordinarily strong. I went from a practicing Catholic to Agnostic. That process, which took me from Catholicism to trying and/or studying other non-christian religions, took me almost 40 years. Religions is perhaps the strongest of all addictions.

        • I’m an escaped Catholic as well.

          • GayOldLady

            Then you know what I’m talking about!!! Getting the catholicism monkey off my back was as important to my life as coming out of the closet. In fact I came out of the closet before I walked away from catholicism. Freedom!!!

          • Yes. I should have mentioned that. I didn’t expect your answer, but It’s great to share that. I had discussed this in the past here. It is hard to break away and even on the holidays if I happen to catch the pope on TV celebrating mass, the rote memorization of the responses comes right back. I can even understand it in Latin because we initially went to a Latin mass when I was young until Latin was mostly phased out. My hubby says it sounds like Children of the Corn and I said yep, that’s a good analogy!

        • Craig Howell

          I was also raised as a very strong Catholic, educated from elementary school through college in Catholic institutions. My brother became a Jesuit priest. But thanks to the blessed teachings of St. Ayn Rand, I was miraculously converted to atheism at age 19, and never looked back. By that time Holy Mother The Church Inc. had done such a great job in debunking all other religions that I had no interest in exploring any of them after I achieved enlightenment. Glory!

    • yeruncle

      The Catholics didn’t sink this vote however, the protestant fundamentalist DUP did.

  • Can someone explain this petition of concern? Is it something like a filibuster than requires a super-majority to override?

    • Sam_Handwich posted a good explanation form Wikipedia:

      “any vote taken by the Assembly can be made dependent on cross-community support if a petition of concern is presented to the Speaker. A petition of concern may be brought by 30 or more MLAs.[32] In such cases, a vote on proposed legislation will only pass if supported by a weighted majority (60%) of members voting, including at least 40% of each of the nationalist and unionist designations present and voting. Effectively this means that, provided enough MLAs from a given community agree, that community (or a sufficiently large party in that community) can exercise a veto over the Assembly’s decisions.”

      • Steve Teeter

        40% of both the nationalist and unionist factions? Each one? Doesn’t that mean you need at least 80% support for the proposed legislation, not 60%?

        • Exo

          Some parties sit as “other” like the Alliance party, they don’t count as either side.

  • Ninja0980

    How nice they are concerned about children?
    Where was the concern when they were covering up child abuse?

    • Or when they were abusing the children? Or when the nuns where flushing newborns down the drains? Or when the church keeps sponging money from their flock for ever bigger palaces and designer gowns for their bishops, and not donating a drop to help with the refugee crises?

      • Harshan

        Why does anyone put a child in a Catholic school, and why do we let the Catholic Church run adoption services? Maybe I’m balding because I’ve scratched my head so much trying to figure it out.

  • D. J.

    The RCC needs additional time to check all of their Northern Ireland cisterns…..

  • Friday

    So, you’ve got Catholic Bishops and the Ul;ster Unionists using each other to oppress LGBT people in the name of… Defying a majority vote, here?

    • ChrisMorley

      Spot on.

  • Octavio

    Boy, that’s some piece meal shitty excuse the Irish Bishops pulled out of their collective ass holes. 🙁

    In other news, there seems to be a new bunch of data leaked from the Vatican that reveal even more heinous behavior by the RCC.

  • Capritaur

    Aren’t the Unionists a protestant party? Guess nothing brings people together better than hate.

  • bryan
  • Of all the countries on earth, why oh why is Northern Ireland listening to any religious leaders? They were the ones who kept the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants evergreen, with bountiful caskets of wasted youth.

  • rextrek1

    well I guess Northern Ireland doesn’t Like TOURISM DOLLARS then………..!!!!

  • BobSF_94117

    The bishops of NI oppose this law BUT the Catholic politicians and Catholic people strongly support marriage equality.

    Don’t blame them, blame the conservative Protestants.

  • Irish856

    It appears that the Catholics in the Assembly ignored the old gray haired white guys again… They voted for Marriage Just like in The Irish Republic and here in the USA

    Democratic Unionists Party
    is mainly made up of Protestants…

  • Franciscan

    I wonder what Father Guido Sarducci would have to say about this.

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