Gay marriage rejected by Northern Ireland Stormont Assembly
A proposal to have gay marriage legalised in Northern Ireland has been rejected.
It is the fourth time the divisive issue has been defeated at the Stormont Assembly and comes hours after under-pressure DUP health minister Jim Wells resigned amid controversy over remarks about same sex relationships.
A blocking mechanism was used by the Mr Wells' colleagues to ensure the motion's defeat.
DUP Assembly member Peter Weir said his party opposed same sex marriages.
"This is not a serious debate. Clearly this motion is an attack on the symbolism of marriage and the institution of marriage and an attempt to redefine marriage.
"My party believes, and I believe also, that marriage is between one man and one woman and once you redefine that you lose the essence of marriage itself."
The motion was brought forward by Sinn Fein.
South Down MLA Catriona Ruane said they wanted to "drown out the bile" put forward by opponents of equal marriage.
She said: "Together we will build a society that includes and embraces."
Meanwhile, the SDLP's Colm Eastwood said: "We need to be seen to be embracing all members of our community.
"There is no reason why the north of Ireland should be the only place on these islands that doesn't have marriage available to same sex couples."
Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle MLA said: "The Alliance Party therefore supports the extension of state provided civil marriage to same sex couples, provided that robust legislative protection can uphold the religious freedom of faith groups to define and practice religious marriage as they determine.
"Dialogue and mutual respect are, however, vital if we are to see equal civil marriage introduced in Northern Ireland.
"Alliance will also continue to work on issues such as adoption, the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood and homophobic bullying in schools. I welcome the work by Justice Minister David Ford to introduce a ban on homophobic chanting and Employment & Learning Minister Stephen Farry on workplace equality."
Aye: 47, No: 49. Three Alliance Party MLAs abstained: Judith Cochrane, Trevor Lunn and Kieran McCarthy.
Four unionist MLAs voted in favour of the motion: John McCallister (UUP), Danny Kinahan (UUP), Basil McCrea (NI21), Claire Sugden (independent).