The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected same-sex marriage legislation by an outright majority for the fourth time.
Today MLAs voted 49 to 47 against a motion calling for the redefinition of marriage. There were three abstentions.
Traditional marriage supporters had warned that the motion sought to limit the free speech of Christians.
Callum Webster, spokesman for The Christian Institute, said: “This is now the fourth time in three years this motion has been defeated. We’re thankful to those MLAs who have resisted this constant and co-ordinated pressure from activists to redefine marriage.”
He had previously highlighted that a sentence supporting “freedom of religion” in last year’s motion was deleted from this year’s version.
Mr Webster said this indicated that supporters of gay marriage only want to allow free speech within church services.
But he stressed that a Christian’s faith must apply to every area of their life, adding: “We can’t section off Christ’s teaching from our daily activities.”
The Private Members’ Motion, tabled by four Sinn Fein MLAs, called for the Minister of Finance and Personnel to introduce gay marriage legislation.
It also called on the Assembly to “welcome” the referendum on redefining marriage in the Republic of Ireland.
It argued that a growing number of parliaments have “embraced, and legislated” for gay marriage, and urged the Executive to follow suit.
MLAs have defeated three similar attempts to introduce gay marriage, in 2012, 2013 and again last year.