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Northern Ireland Assembly thwarts gay-marriage bill

Lawmakers warned that legal action lies ahead

The Northern Ireland Assembly has again thwarted passage of a gay-marriage bill — the third time it has done so in 18 months — increasing the likelihood that same-sex couples may take legal action, The Guardian reports.

The Sinn Féin motion to legalize gay marriage fell by a vote of 51 to 43, prompting Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland program director, Patrick Corrigan, to say that lawmakers are holding back “the tide of equality,” the report states.

Prior to the vote, a letter co-drafted by Cardinal Sean Brady, archbishop of Armagh, called on legislators to stop the bill. It reads, in part, “The proposed marriage equality motion before the assembly effectively says to parents, children and society that the state should not, and will not, promote any normative or ideal family environment for raising children. It therefore implies that the biological bond and natural ties between a child and its mother and father have no intrinsic value for the child or for society.”

The letter also cites a statement by Pope Francis, who recently reiterated that children have the right to be raised by a mother and father.