Published Tuesday, 29 April 2014
On Tuesday MLAs debated on a move to introduce legislation to give equal benefits to couples of any sex or gender, as has been adopted in other parts of the UK.
The Sinn Féin motion stated that religious institutions should have the choice on whether to conduct same-sex marriages.
The debate went ahead after the DUP tabled a petition of concern on Monday, meaning the proposal would only be passed if a majority of both unionists and nationalists supported it.
The motion was supported by the SDLP and Alliance Party, while the UUP had allowed individual members to make their own minds up on the matter.
Supporters of gay marriage have held protests in both Belfast and Londonderry to object to the use of a petition.
The first gay marriages in the UK took place in England and Wales in March. In Scotland a similar law was introduced in February, with the first marriages expected there in October.
A referendum on the issue is likely to be held in the Republic of Ireland next year.
In an open letter on Monday, Catholic bishops urged politicians to reject the motion, while the Church of Ireland restated its opposition.
© UTV News