Published Saturday, 01 September 2012
David Ford, Alliance Party leader, made the announcement on Saturday. (© UTV)
On Saturday, the party announced that after months of consultation with members and associations a motion was passed by the Alliance ruling council calling for equal civil marriage with robust protection for faith groups.
Party leader David Ford says the political group has "always stood for a progressive and equal society."
He said that the party "will oppose any form of discrimination, whether it is based on age, race, disability, gender or sexual orientation."
"There are equality issues in allowing those in a same sex relationship to have only civil partnerships, which is seen as discriminatory. The motion also called for protection for faith groups, to ensure they are not forced to act contrary to their beliefs.
"I would like to thank our Deputy Leader, Naomi Long who led this process and spent a considerable amount of time and energy in ensuring that we had the correct policy in place on this issue."
Ms Long said that she believed the decision was correct.
"For me as a Christian and a liberal, I believe that equality and religious freedom are fundamental to a democratic society and both must be promoted and protected. I believe our motion reflects that reality.
The East Belfast MP added: "I acknowledge that there are still those who do not in conscience support same sex civil marriage, which is why our policy did provide robust protection for faith groups so they will not be forced to conduct same sex marriage ceremonies or to have them conducted on their premises."