Foyle SDLP MLA Colum Eastood has called for civil marriage legislation to be extended to allow gay couple to marry in the North.
Mr Eastwood made the call following a debate on the issue at his party’s conference in Armagh at the weekend.
In the past SDLP representatives have voiced differing opinions of the issue of gay marriage.
“The SDLP has shown that it recognises that there are strongly and genuinely held views on both sides of this issue.
“It is important that those who hold genuine concerns about same-sex marriage are assured that it will not detract from, devalue or diminish their own moral principles or the theological tenets of religious institutions,” he said.
The SDLP equality spokesperson also said that extending marriage equality to same sex couple strengthens marriage.
“It is not about the imposition or forcing of social mores. It is not a case of a shotgun marriage between theological tradition and ever-changing social and societal compositions. Each has a place of respect and the right of respect. I am not of the belief that the existence of one set of societal values or compositions corrodes the strength, status or symbol of any other.
“In essence, the extension of the statutory recognition of marriage to same-sex couples is an affirmation of the enduring importance of marriage. The bonds between two people, encased and sustained by the growing nature of love, have a value worthy of extension to those who would choose it. Heterosexual marriage embodies those values; so too does same-sex marriage. The recognition and extension of equal marriage is ultimately about the conservation of those same values of loving inter-reliance.”