This afternoon, 27 April, the Northern Ireland Assembly debated a Private Members’ Business Motion on marriage equality. The motion, in the names of Caitríona Ruane, Sinn Féin MLA for South Down, and others, read as follows:
“That this Assembly welcomes the marriage equality referendum in the south of Ireland; notes that a growing number of parliaments across the world have embraced, and legislated for, marriage equality; respects the rights of the religious institutions to define, observe and practise marriage within their beliefs; and calls on the Executive to legislate for marriage equality for same sex couples so that all citizens will have the same legal entitlement to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage.”
The motion was defeated by 49 votes to 47. Sinn Féin, SDLP and five Alliance MLAs supported the motion. The DUP opposed it and the Ulster Unionists were given a free vote on the issue: of 53 Unionists, only four voted in favour. A Petition of Concern had been tabled in advance of the vote, meaning that the motion would require cross-community support from both Unionists and Nationalists in order to pass: in the event, however, it did not come into play. The Hansard and division list are available here.