The News Letter took to the streets yesterday to garner views from members of the public on the contentious issue of gay marriage.
Several who were asked for their perspective did say they were against gay marriage – sometimes strongly so – but they were not prepared to go on the record.
Views came from those of all ages and all walks of life, and was prompted when the News Letter was contacted by John Ford, a staunch opponent of both gay marriage and adoption.
Although not religious, the 67-year-old former shipyard worker from Carnmoney said that he simply could not approve of it – although he suggested he was willing to bow to public opinion on the issue, and said a referendum should be held on it.
“Over in England, David Cameron ran roughshod over everybody there.
“Everybody I talk to is against it. My circle of friends is small, but they’re all against this.
“It seems to be people on high that’s forcing this on us.”
Ultimately, he asked: “Why don’t they call a referendum and ask people to decide?”
In the wake of his idea for a referendum, this reporter sought a straw poll of individuals on the streets.
First was Katie Haas-Sentance, 26, from south Belfast.
“I’m a Christian,” she said. “When I speak to Christians about this issue, oftentimes it comes back to their faith. Fair enough, you have to respect them for their opinions.
“But I’ve known a few people who are homosexual, lesbians, and for that reason I feel it’s not for me to judge.”
Her views were in contrast to some of those who declared themselves to be religious and hit out at the notion of gay marriage, but shied away when it came to identifying themselves.
Also speaking in favour of the idea, and decisively so, was Sarah McDevitt, a 19-year-old student from Portaferry
She said: “I’d be definitely for it. I don’t understand why there has to be such an uproar against it.
“Everyone is supposed to have their own rights and freedoms, so I don’t understand why they can’t do what they want to do. I’m frustrated why there is such a big deal about it.”
Pairic Madden, a 58-year-old teacher from Dublin, said: “I’d be for it. I think it’s part of civil rights. It’s a human right. I’ve a brother who is gay, and so I want to see him happy.
“It’s just in recent years, things have moved on a lot.
“I think there still is a stigma attached to being gay, but recognition in the eyes of the law is how I think it should be.”
Andy Elliott, a 61-year-old teacher from Ballysillan, was more equivocal.
“Stormont is against it, Minister Poots is against it. Personally I’d like to live and let live,” he said.
He said he understands the idea that marriage is about procreation, but said it is also possible to be married and not have children.
“I’m not for it, I’m not against it,” he added.
“There’s so many things involved, it’s hard to say.
“But it’s good to have a debate about it.”
David Shaw, 72, and from Ballysillan, said he had no problem with the idea of civil partnerships or marriage, so long as religious people are not compelled to go against their beliefs to implement it.
“As long as they don’t force the different churches into marrying them,” he said.
Others who spoke to the paper said they were also in favour of it, with “live and let live” being a phrase heard more than once.
However, were the poll to be held outside the city, the results may well have been quite different.
When it comes to the idea of a referendum on the matter in real life, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said that he would be happy to have one, and to accept whatever the democratic vote would be.
But Mr Campbell, himself strongly against both gay marriage and gay adoption, said: “If everything is going to be resolved by way of a referendum, you don’t really need a parliament. You’d be voting every week of the year.”