Gay couple say marriage should be option for all

A LESBIAN couple living in Banbridge have said they find the latest statements on gay marriage made by local DUP representatives unsurprising but disappointing.

Referring to Government proposals to legalise gay marriage Upper Bann MP David Simpson and MLAs Stephen Moutray and Sydney Anderson have made clear their opposition to the plans to “redefine marriage”.

The politicians said, “The issue of the Coalition Government’s proposals to redefine marriage has been an issue of considerable discussion over the summer.

“Many local people have expressed their concerns on this issue to us in a personal capacity and we have consistently indicated to them where we stand on this.”

Local women Edwina and Dee Harland-Powell have been in a civil partnership for just over six years and, while Edwina admitted marriage may not be a necessity for them she feels everyone should have the right to avail of the opportunity.

“These words from the DUP do not surprise me,” Edwina, who is originally from Wales, told the Leader.

“For the young ones coming out nowadays I think things are a lot easier, but I also think these views on marriage are just another way in which gay people are not treated equally.

“We are your neighbours, your friends, those who serve you in the shop, and those who treat you in hospital.

“But yet we don’t have the same rights as everyone else. We are people too.”

The 56-year-old said she and her partner felt the need to enter into a civil partnership to allow them the same financial and legal benefits as others.

“If something had happened myself or Dee we don’t know where we would have stood with regards to money and possessions and so on.”

And attitudes to gay people have a long way to go in Banbridge, Edwina said.

“There are gay people living in Banbridge but not many work or socialise here,” she said. “There isn’t much of sense of a ‘gay community’.

“We live as an openly gay couple but some people shun and ignore us. There are times I can walk down the street holding Dee’s hand, and times and places where I can’t do that. “