A Catholic legislator has introduced a marriage equality bill for Northern Ireland, and he said doing so was “living the message of the gospel.”
Conor McGinn, a member of the British Parliament who is originally from Northern Ireland, introduced the bill during Holy Week. Addressing Parliament at the introduction of the bill, McGinn joked that though he is a practicing Catholic, “now my parish priest would undoubtedly say that I probably need to practice a little bit more.” The Catholic Herald reported that he said further:
“‘I have been asked about whether or not, given the position of the Church hierarchy, this conflicts with my own personal faith. Let me say this as gently and I hope as appropriately as possible: the God I know is one of love, compassion and understanding. In showing that to others, in standing up for the marginalised and those denied their rights, I believe I am living the message of the gospel in this Holy Week.'”
A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Lords. At present, given an inability by political parties in Northern Ireland to form a government, that region is being ruled directly by the British Parliament. This political situation has raised hopes that, whereas Northern Ireland legislators are often more conservative, a more liberal British Parliament will be able to pass legislation like marriage equality. LGBT activists in both Northern Ireland and England are calling on the Parliament to take action soon.
In addition, a new survey showed a record 76% of residents in Northern Ireland now support marriage equality, while just 18% are actively opposed. Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International pointed out that this level of support exceeds where the populations of Great Britain and Ireland were when equal marriage laws were approved in those countries.
The marriage issue has been raised in Northern Ireland’s Parliament five times, yet it has failed every vote. In the past, it has been the traditionally-Catholic political parties which have supported marriage equality against Protestant-backed parties’ opposition. Conor McGinn once again proves that, when it comes to advancing LGBT rights, affirming Catholics act because of their faith, not in spite of it. Let us pray his act of faith in Holy Week will leading to a winning vote this Eastertide.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 15, 2018