What’s another million dollars? Nothing if what you believe you are doing is right and in the best interests of your people.
That is the conundrum the Bermuda Government is faced with in the wake of an entirely predictable defeat in the Court of Appeal last Friday when the ruling made by former Chief Justice Ian Kawaley that sections of the Domestic Partnership Act were unconstitutional was upheld.
For the percentage of those who saw fit to voice their opinion two years ago when this vexed issue was put to a referendum, the Progressive Labour Party will feel that it is fulfilling its mandate to “that” electorate. But given that the majority of “the” electorate effectively said “Who cares?” by sitting on their hands when asked the questions over whether they were in favour of same-sex marriage and civil unions, should not the Government belatedly adopt a “Who cares” posture of its own?
To persist may not only become an exercise in futility, but an expensive one at that.
Champions of marriage equality have another 16 days to “sweat” over this dead horse being flogged some more. In the interim, though, the issue remains: which member of David Burt’s Cabinet will possess the intestinal fortitude to put their foot down and say, “Enough is enough”?
Not Wayne Furbert. But possibly, Walton Brown, now that he has shed, or had shed for him, the responsibility for the ministry that brought the DPA to the Houses of Parliament?
Enough truly is enough, though.
Enough of Preserve Marriage and Family Bermuda, whose origins can be traced to being in direct opposition only when the scent of same-sex marriage wafted through local corridors — but long after the first incense had been lit globally.
The Government of Bermuda, past and present inductions, failed to acknowledge as far back ago as the world’s first marriage of two men in 2001 that the “ill wind” might just blow through these parts.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Opponents of those who embraced the winds of change have been found to be chasing their tails every step of the way — out-thought and outfought, if not outgunned, by a committed but equally vociferous few who believed fervently that they had on their side the law and a creaking Constitution in need of revision that was there to be taken advantage of by clever lawyers.
Enough of the scaremongering that same-sex marriage will lead to the disintegration of the Bermudian family unit — when so many families, riven as they are with teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, child sex abuse and a pervasive gang culture, are already broken beyond repair for reasons that have nowt to do with two men or two women wanting to formalise their already loving relationships.
Enough of the socially, and arguably racially, condescending soundbites: “Right side of history”, “Wrong side of history”, “Right-thinking people”, and, worst of all, “Civilised world”.
With same-sex marriage legal in some form in a mere 27 countries, that makes for a chunk of uncivilised living on a planet comprised of 195. In particular in locales where those on both sides of this debate are known to frequent while on holiday.
But, yes, they make for catchy soundbites in this age of populism.
This argument, even though it directly affects less than 1 per cent of the population, has not so much sown the seeds of division; it has fertilised them. Along lines of race, social standing and nationality — the Big Three in these warring isles, never far from the surface of any contentious conversation.
Enough of the exceedingly nauseating “Love wins” — kill me now. This argument has never been about the right to be in a gay relationship; the Stubbs Bill put paid to that 24 years ago.
What had not been overcome, though, was discrimination against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. And it is that which is at the heart of rulings that have gone in their favour almost consistently since the Bermuda Bred case in December 2014.
Discrimination in any form of life is wrong and it is cruel. Those who perpetuate it should cower in shame.
Marriage may not be a human right, but every man, woman and child deserves the right to be happy.
Too much time, money and energy has been invested in putting frowns on faces and wiping the tears away; not so much stripping away rights, but denying access to them.
It cost something in the region of $400,000 to hire a Queen’s Counsel for a case he apparently couldn’t win — good work when you can get it.
If the Government genuinely believes what it is doing is right and in the best interests of its people — all of its people — then carry on throwing good money after bad.
Next step is the Privy Council for an “away game”, where the home crowd are already against you for being the “tax haven” that is Bermuda and for daring to dream it could be a market leader in the nascent fintech industry.
With so many irons in the fire, not least the impending commitment to the European Union on taxation that has so many ramifications for a country already billions in debt, the Premier may very well resolve over a Belgian waffle that now is the time to cut our losses.
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Ada Nyabongo (1926-2020)
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