Alliance Party leader David Ford publicly opposed same sex marriage a few years ago but has changed his position after speaking with people affected by the issues, he says.
Earlier this month Mr Ford stepped aside as elder at Second Donegore Presbyterian Church over his political support for gay marriage.
Mr Ford told Sunday Sequence yesterday that he had stepped aside from the duties as elder but not from the position. As to whether he will return, he said this was “very much” in the hands of the church elders and that he may yet face an investigation.
He confirmed he said publicly five to six years ago that he supported civil partnerships but not same sex marriage, but changed his views because of perceptions of those affected that the two arrangements were not equal.
His personal belief is heterosexual marriage “is an ideal” but that same sex relationships “are short of that ideal”.
However, he said homosexual relationships are not sinful, adding that it “may well be genetics or something in the womb over which they have no control”.
He added: “I think it’s not for majorities to tell minorities that feel discriminated against that they’re not being discriminated against,” he said.
Mr Ford said the state has a duty to provide services for all citizens and protect the rights of churches to define and practice their own beliefs.