Saturday, 4 August 2012

SDLP in disarray on 'gay marriage' (2)

This morning the Irish News reports a further development in the SDLP story.

Councillor Pat McCarthy from South Belfast, one of the two SDLP councillors who did not back a 'gay marriage' motion at Belfast City Council, has hit out at his South Belfast colleague for suggesting that he should be disciplined.

McCarthy, a former Lord Mayor, said, 'I certainly broke no party rules.  There is no policy on 'gay marriage'.  Policy is made at conference and between conferences the body responsible for making policy is the party executive.  I sit on the party executive and 'gay marriage' has never been raised.'

The SDLP is clearly concerned about the controversy and both party leader Alasdair McDonnell and deputy leader Dolores Kelly have moved to clarify party policy after Conall McDevitt claimed that the party was '100 per cent' behind moves to legalise 'gay marriage'.  In what the Irish News describes as a 'clear rebuttal' McDonnell said that McDevitt was 'maybe playing to the gallery' at the Gay Pride event by making the 'exaggerated' claim. 

Meanwhile Dolores Kelly has revealed that the issue was discussed at a meeting of SDLP MLAs in June and 'the view was that the party as a whole would support 'gay marriage' as the SDLP is a party of equality.'  However members could abstain on grounds of conscience if a vote was taken at a council, Assembly or Westminster. 

This disclosure will now put pressure on SDLP MLAs to state how they voted at the meeting, if indeed there was a vote, and where they stand on the issue.  There will also be pressure for SDLP councillors and MPs to state their position.

Of course at the end of the day, as stated by Pat McCarthy, it is the party conference and the party executive which determine party policy, not the Assembly group. 

The SDLP is already troubled by deep divisions and this latest controversy over 'gay marriage' will only make the situation even worse.

1 comment:

  1. "Dolores Kelly has revealed that the issue was discussed at a meeting of SDLP MLAs in June and 'the view was that the party as a whole would support 'gay marriage' as the SDLP is a party of equality." If this proves to be the case I will cease to vote for the SDLP. This is far from being a matter of equality, as 'gay marriage' can never equate with marriage between a man and a woman. No political party or church may redefine marriage. This predates church and party. Thus the SDLP needs to reflect carefully on the word 'equality.' They surely would discriminate against the National Front if they wanted to air their views at the SDLP party conference. In other words 'discrimination' may be prudent if it's to protect the common good. And the loving union between one man and one woman is a fundamental good at the heart of society. A very small minority is in the process of redefining this time-honoured model, and the SDPL as a party hasn't made it clear where it stands on marriage and family in society, if for example, this is the paradigm par excellence for a stable society. Here are some question for the SDLP: (1) What will happen if parents refuse to have their children taught that homosexuality and SSMs are morally good and safe lifestyle choices? Will they be forced under threat of legal action to have them so taught? (2) What if Christian teachers refuse to teach the children under their care that God ordained marriage between one man and one woman? Or (3)refuse to display the graphics of rectal intercourse and in conscience warn of the dangers inherent in such behaviour? Are they to be prosecuted, lose their jobs? Whence 'equality' now? The SDLP are of course looking behind them in fear of the power of the gay lobby with its media backing, but they should, like Lord McGuinness, take a stand against the greatest oxymoron in human history: SSMs. My thanks to Lord Ken! He took a stand and paid the price. Will Alasdair do likewise?

    Brendan Bradley