DUP subjected to unfair ridicule on a conscience matter

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Rarely has a major moral or social issue moved as rapidly up the political ladder as same sex marriage has done.

In 2014, the News Letter exclusively reported what seemed then like a sensation speech at Queen’s University by Lord Wilson, who sits on the Supreme Court, predicting that gay marriage would be introduced in Northern Ireland.

He said that he suspected that the Province will not “for long be able to hold back the tide in favour of same sex marriages”.

Sure enough, his words are rapidly coming to fruition.

Few political pundits believe that Stormont, if it is resumed, will continue to block gay marriage for years into the future.

At some point soon there will almost certainly be moderate elements within the DUP who begin to make clear their liberal views on that question, even though the great bulk of the party takes a traditional stance.

But the opprobrium to which the DUP has been subjected on the subject is utterly absurd.

People from the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to backbench Tory and Labour MPs have all made clear their view that the absence of gay marriage in Northern Ireland is an anachronism that must be removed at once.

Now, however, it emerges that arguably the most respected politician in Europe takes a similar view to the DUP mainstream. The German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is admired on the right and left of the political spectrum, has opposed same sex marriage in Germany. It is unlikely that she will be subjected to the same ridicule as the DUP has been.

This is a conscience issue on which people of goodwill across many parties ought to be able to disagree and debate and decide, and then press on with addressing the multiple other challenges in society,