A man in Northern Ireland has defied strict religious protocol and two centuries of history to walk his lesbian daughter down the aisle.
Spencer Beattie, 68, belongs to the order of pro-English Protestants, The Orangemen.
However, he broke protocol when he walked his daughter Lesa down the aisle.
He gave his daughter away at the civil partnership last Wednesday (21 February) in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.
There is currently a ban on official same-sex marriage in the country. Civil partnership is the closest that gay couples can get tying the knot.
Northern Ireland’s same-sex debate ‘a sign of moral decline’
Protestants formed The Orange Order in 1795 to defend their faith. Ever since, the order has been at the center of conflicts between Northern Ireland’s Protestants and Catholics.
While the majority of people in Northern Ireland support marriage equality, The Orange Order is against it. In fact, it also firmly opposes same-sex civil partnerships and LGBTI culture.
The Order has repeatedly described same-sex marriage as a ‘sign of moral decline’. It also prevents Protestant Christians from marrying Catholic spouses.
Unionists like the Orange Order have successfully blocked marriage equality through Northern Ireland’s Assembly. And that’s left Northern Ireland as the only part of the UK where same-sex couples can’t wed.
But Mr Beattie, a respected figure in the organization, put his family ahead of the Order’s ideals.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Beattie said: ‘I’m all for equality and people having the right to make their own choices.’
‘I don’t know if I’ll get in trouble’, says Orangeman
Talking after an Orange Order march through Belfast on Sunday (25 February), Beattie elaborated:
‘I don’t know if I’ll get in trouble for going to the ceremony, but that’s not up to me.
‘I’d like to take some advice before saying anything further.’
‘Father first and Orangeman second’
The paper’s Sunday Life section said it was tipped off by anonymous Orange Order source, who praised Beattie for his attendance.
‘Fair play to Spencer, it proves we aren’t all dinosaurs and shows how much love he has for his daughter.
‘The Orange Order may have its rules, but these really don’t matter when it comes to ensuring the happiness of your child.
‘As Spencer has rightly shown, he’s a father first and Orangeman second,’ continued the source.