Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Unionists have failed people on gay marriage

My belief in the Union is more absolute than ever. Yet I experience days when being a unionist causes me to want to crawl back under the bedclothes.

One such occasion happened last week, when unionism - with the exception of a brave few - decided that gay marriage was not for Northern Ireland.

The decision was taken that equality might not be afforded to a citizen on the basis of the sex of the person they fall in love with.

From William III of Orange, to Oscar Wilde, to Roger Casement, gay people have sculpted Irish and world history.

Yet the men I have just cited would not have the right to be married in the country of their celebration. At a unionist youth meeting not long after the last election, I was informed by a member of the Ulster Unionist Party that "working-class loyalism is, of course, Right-wing, not Left-wing".

One need only look to the laughable performance of the BNP in the most recent Assembly elections to realise that this option was flatly refused.

With 42% here not voting at all and a disproportionate amount of those being working-class Protestants, how can it be assumed what working-class loyalism is? It's time to embrace equality.

Carson said that "the respect and fair treatment of the minority should be of paramount importance to the majority."

I agree.

WILLIAM ENNIS

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