Same sex campaigners deliver Valentine's Day cards to Stormont

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill (centre left) and Mary Lou McDonald (centre right) with party colleagues at Stormont Parliament Buildings during a same sex marriage event, where campaigners delivered Valentine's Day cards calling for same sex marriage legislation. Picture by David Young/PA

SAME sex marriage campaigners have delivered Valentine's Day cards to Stormont demanding a change to marriage laws.

The teenage activists also presented a 14,000 signature petition which they want presented to Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley.

The ban on gay marriage is one of the disputes dividing the DUP and Sinn Féin.

A majority of MLAs were in favour of lifting the ban when the issue last came to the floor of the Assembly chamber, but the DUP triggered a contentious voting mechanism - the petition of concern - to block it.

Senior figures from Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists, Alliance, Greens and People Before Profit posed for photos with the campaigners in Parliament Buildings, Belfast today.

The activists want Mrs Bradley to intervene and introduce a law change through Westminster if there is no resolution to the stand-off at Stormont.

Jennifer McAlpin, a 16-year-old student from Ballycarry, Co Antrim, was one of those who brought the petition to Stormont.

"We chose Valentine's Day because it is the day of love, so equal love," she said.

The presence of UUP representatives Doug Beattie and John Stewart demonstrated that the debate does not fit into Northern Ireland's traditional orange and green prism.

UUP leader Mr Beattie said the campaign for same sex marriage was "right and just".

He stressed the issue was a matter of conscience within the UUP and colleagues with opposing views should not be denigrated.

"I have always support marriage equality and I have been very vocal on that," he said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said a reform of the petition of concern was an obvious way to make progress on same sex marriage legislation.

"We should allow the majority of the Assembly's voice to be heard and the majority of the community's voice to be heard in making sure that everybody on this island is entitled to have their love fully respected and be married if they so wish," he said.

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