At the beginning of 2018, Tracy Harkin, above, who heads a Christian think tank – the Iona Institute Northern Ireland – lamented the fact that marriage was going down the plughole in the province.
One reason is that:
We tend to see marriage now as simply one more ‘lifestyle choice’ and we do not highlight its special importance to society and to children.
But same-sex marriage, she said this week, has no place in Northern Irish society (Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK in which same-sex marriage has not been legalised due to opposition from its largest party, the DUP.)
She was reacting to claims by a Catholic MP who said opponents of same-sex marriage reform risk alienating a generation in Northern Ireland.
Gerard “Ged” Killen, Labour MP from Glasgow, above, who is married to a man from Northern Ireland, said in a speech at the annual Amnesty International Pride lecture in Belfast on Thursday that:
Make no mistake. Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland will happen. Those who stand opposed risk alienating a generation. The children of future married same-sex couples, their friends and their families will not forgive nor forget those who stood in the way of equality.
This is not an equality issue. This is whether or not we still need civil marriage as a social intuition and for the good of children, and in particular I think we do. It’s been very frustrating to hear these constant accusations of homophobia or being anti-equality and I think that needs to stop.
While Harkin rejected Killen’s opinion, she acknowledged that the gay marriage debate in NI has had a negative effect on those who support it.
That’s an awful message to be hearing because I think it further marginalises an already marginalised community.
She called on the Christian community to be better at articulating the reasons why same-sex marriage would be a bad idea.
Children should have a recognisable mother and father that should be involved in their upbringing and that’s the real reason why marriage as a social institution exists. Moral understanding shouldn’t come into this discussion.
In the public arena we’re talking about civil marriage, so as Christians we need to focus on the common good of marriage. People don’t care if they’re not Christians … but they do care about the common good and how it effects children.