David Ford MLA said: “Alliance believes that, in terms of equality, it is correct to extend the provisions of civil marriage to same sex couples. At present civil partnerships are not equal to marriage. For instance, those in a civil partnership currently have to declare their sexual orientation on official forms.
“This is obviously still a highly sensitive issue for many people across Northern Ireland. I respect the deeply held personal opinions of those who are opposed to same sex marriage.
“However, Alliance Party policy on this issue is that there must be protection for churches and faith groups, and for clergy, that they would not be forced to carry out same sex marriage ceremonies or have ceremonies performed on their property. Today’s motion was consistent with that position.
“Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights gives solid protection on the grounds of religious freedom, so I do not believe that faith groups have any reason for concern that they could be forced to carry out same sex marriages, any more than they can be forced to marry those previously divorced.”