There has been a mixed reaction to the announcement by Lagan Valley MLA Trevor Lunn that he has changed his view on same sex marriage.
Mr Lunn had previously voiced his opposition to same sex marriage. However, he has said that a number of things had now changed his mind on the issue, including the recent referendum in the Republic.
“This issue has been contentious between myself and my party for many years, and also between me and the LGBT community,” said Mr Lunn. “My attitude has been a source of irritation, even though both groups accept, I hope, that I’m not anti-gay.
“I supported civil partnerships and the rights of LGBT people, but the question of marriage has been a step too far for me. In recent months, we have had the referendum in the Republic and a very impressive rally here in support of the proposal.
“I’m in no doubt that a test of public opinion in Northern Ireland would produce a close result at least, and probably a decisive vote in favour. I also attended a meeting of the Northern Ireland branch of the British Psychological Society, at which the problems affecting LGBT people in terms of equality were discussed. We cannot ignore their conclusions.
“I feel that the time is right for me to reconsider my position, and I do not feel that Northern Ireland should continue to be the only part of these islands where same-sex marriage on a civil basis should not be allowed.
“I will therefore support the proposal when it inevitably comes before the Assembly during the next term.”
Lisburn Alliance Councillor, Alderman Stephen Martin, welcomed Mr Lunn’s decision. “‘Equal marriage should be a no-brainer. We have many people living in Lisburn and right across Northern Ireland who should have the same right to marry as others in society.