'Not in my name': DUP councillor hits out at party running gay election candidate
A DUP councillor has hit out at the party running its first openly gay election candidate, saying: "Not in my name."
John Carson expressed "dissatisfaction" with Alison Bennington's selection and said "many feel the same and it will be hammered out after the election".
The Free Presbyterian Church, founded by the late Ian Paisley and from which the DUP draws many of its members, also issued a pointed statement following the decision.
It said it was "saddened" by parties attempting to "normalise and promote marital and sexual relationships that are in contravention of the clear teaching of Scripture".
Ms Bennington's council election candidacy has sparked debate since The Irish News last month revealed she is the DUP's first openly gay politician.
The party has a long history of hostility towards LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, including ex-DUP leader Mr Paisley's 'Save Ulster from Sodomy' campaign in the late 1970s.
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LGBT activists have broadly welcomed Ms Bennington seeking election as a "positive development".
The DUP has described her as an "excellent candidate" for Antrim and Newtownabbey council.
Ms Bennington, who runs a consultancy firm and has a long-term partner, said she is seeking election based on what she can deliver for voters, "not based on my sexual orientation".
But party MLA Jim Wells said it "fundamentally undermines the values and traditions of the party" and the late Mr Paisley would be "aghast".
Mr Carson, a Ballymena councillor, was asked on Facebook about Ms Bennington's selection.
He wrote: "I share your dissatisfaction at this decision which I as an executive member had no part in and only learned of it through the press like yourself and at that stage it was not possible to do anything about it."
"Many feel the same and it will be hammered out after the election," he added, claiming Ms Bennington "wasn't even selected locally".
In another Facebook post on the decision, reported in the News Letter, Mr Carson said: "I say quite openly and with no fear of the consequences, 'Not in my name.'
He described himself as "an old Paisleyite" and said: "I believe in the coming days not only myself but many of us will have some soul-searching to do and some tough decisions to make."
The Free Presbyterian Church on Saturday issued a statement stressing its "opposition to all marital and sexual relationships outside the covenant of Biblical marriage".
"Therefore, as a Church we are saddened by the attempts of political parties to normalise and promote marital and sexual relationships that are in contravention of the clear teaching of Scripture," it said.
It said political leaders are "subject to God's moral law and should endeavour to honour it".