Below is a transcript of the letter printed in today's Newry Democrat, written by SDLP member Sinead Challinor on the issue of marriage equality:
Sinn Féin 'promoting anti Christian agenda'
Caitriona Ruane's call (Newry Demo Aug 7th) for a stepping up of the campaign for the right of gay people to be married in my opinion is not in keeping with the thinking of the majority of her constituents in South Down.
I fidn there is a justifiable level of acceptance in most of society for all to have a level of equality regardless of whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. To deny equality is to deny the right to participation in civic society and that should be a given right.
But to engage in providing man made laws that would sanction and legislate for gay marriage is in my opinion a step too far. Marriage is a binding agreement between a man and a woman, an indissoluble contract to provide for the begetting and educating of children. The natural contract of marriage was raised by Christ himself to the dignity of a sacrament.
Sinn Féin's promotion of gay marriage legislation is floated without a great deal of thinking and playing the equality trick will not fool as many as they may have us believe. Imagene if it did become law that gay people could marry then our priests, religious ministers and custodians of Christian principles would be compelled under law to carry out such meaningless God defying acts.
SDLP Derryleckagh Branch
In publishing her thoughts, Sinead Challinor has displayed what my mother would call 'a halfwit' approach to the issue. Had Mrs. Challinor examined further the issue that is obviously so close to her heart that she feels the need to protest it (Why that is, I have no idea, as it doesn't affect her in any way, shape or form) she would have realised that under existing legislative framework, same-sex marriage laws (if they were passed) would not infringe on the rights of religious bodies to refuse to grant marriage ceremonies to same-sex couples. In this instance Mrs. Challinor has made a fool of herself, and of her party, by not being in full possession of the facts and has no doubt embarassed those members of the SDLP who voted in favour of marriage equality motions recently submitted to local councils.
I call on the SDLP leadership to condemn the disgusting bigotry and callousness towards the LGBT community in her letter and by not letting this kind of hair brained homophobia to infiltrate party policy.