In his letter to the Belfast Newsletter explaining why he thought he had no need to resign his seat he said;
"It is they who will vindicate me on the principled stand I have taken and on my record as I continue to seek to serve them – regardless of race or creed, political affiliation or sexual orientation."
If that is true he will possibly be the only DUP Councillor on North Down Council he actually does serve his constituents regardless of sexual orientation. I have had no acknowledgement of any correspondence to most of my correspondence to my DUP representatives, bar one on the issue of equal marriage. It basically said that the Cllr would not change his mind on this issue and it was pointless me writing to him about it. So if that is the record of how my DUP representatives serve me in a neighbouring DEA I wonder how the voters of Bangor West will fare.
One of the reason that I believe Cllr Harbinson has given for leaving the Alliance was on the issue of equal marriage. The reason behind it would have something to do with his faith.
In his newspaper column in the Larne Times in August Cllr Harbinson started by saying:
"Did it ever strike you as odd that the Christian religion, which in the beginning was all about transformation, has become so impervious and resistant to change?"Now I know that the church is always more reticent to change, it was something I blogged about in the past.
Before going on to say when talking about turning away the unchurched:
"Some find it surprising that Jesus had little time for the religious leaders of his day and they had no love for him.
"Pointing to them on at least one occasion he described them thus: 'They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden'.
"Jesus makes no such demands. To him only one rule is called for and it applies equally to us all: 'I give you a new commandment,' he said. 'As I have loved you, you should love each other.'"
I imagine the same it true today. But this stance on a policy that has every time it has come forward seek to protest religious freedoms of groups who object as well as those that are open to the idea shows a lack of understanding and integrity.
I rarely play this card but today I have and will again now. The Liberal Democrat policy on equal marriage, on which the Scottish and Westminster (for England and Wales) Bills are grounded, were not formed without taking into account religious groups and individuals on both sides of that divide. I know this first hand, having had many discussions about the drafting of the Scottish policy which was largely copied for Federal. I also met with Steven Agnew to express the importance of religious and individual freedom to choose being in the Northern Ireland Assembly motion.
If faith groups are not secure in the respective guarantees that they are protected from carrying out same-sex marriage, despite them all including the Church of England being protected from marrying divorced people if they don't want to, they should work with the Government to strengthen those areas of concern. But each individual or faith groups that protests on the basis that they don't want to do it, is missing the fact that they are not being forced to.
Maybe Cllr Harbinson and others should pay attention to the essence of what he writes.
Now there some leap in terms of shared society from what the Alliance means to what the DUP means. n May 2011 I had them at different ends of my preferences, so hardly a easy transition. When he resigned Cllr Harbinson said "'if a man does not have integrity he has nothing", may I be so bold to ask where is the integrity in leaving behind the Alliance to join the DUP. I