June: a time of division and change

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  • Stunning upset: Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, celebrates after the result of the British referendum on leaving the European Union (File photograph by Matt Dunham/AP)

    Stunning upset: Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party, celebrates after the result of the British referendum on leaving the European Union (File photograph by Matt Dunham/AP)


TIMELINE

Notable deaths this month included: Edward Manuel, horticulturist, 80; E Graham Gibbons CBE, former Mayor of Hamilton, 96; Tokia Russell, footballer, 38; Ann Cartwright DeCouto, former deputy premier, 71; Muhammad Ali, boxer, 74; Jo Cox, British MP, 41.

Two referendums take place that impact Bermuda’s future, with residents only having a say in one of them.

While the island is failing to answer the question of whether we should allow same-sex marriages and civil unions, Britain is voting to withdraw from the European Union.

With fewer than 50 per cent of registered Bermudian voters turning out on June 23, the island’s referendum is officially deemed to be “unanswered”. In the end just 20,804 people, or 46.89 per cent of the electorate, have their say on the two questions asked.

The numbers are far higher in the UK, with more than 17 million voters, or 51.9 per cent of the electorate who voted opting to leave the EU, against 16 million, or 48.1 per cent, wanting to stay.

Of those that did vote in Bermuda, 69 per cent were against same-sex marriage, with 63 per cent against civil unions. Some 23,563 voters chose not to take part.

A bitter campaign that pitted supporters of the pro-same-sex marriage group, the Rainbow Alliance, against Preserve Marriage threatened to further divide a nation already split along racial, religious and economic lines.

Earlier in the month, a legal challenge to the referendum by the group Centre for Justice is turned down by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley – but the Chief Justice accepts the Centre’s criticism of the use of churches as polling stations. Advance polling is switched to Bermuda College from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church Hall on King Street, and the Parliamentary Registrar’s designation of six church halls as polling rooms is quashed.

After the inconclusive vote Michael Dunkley, the premier, called for Bermuda to “move forward as a country”.

“In March this year, the Government brought forward legislation authorising the referendum,” he said. “Its purpose was to hear the voice of the people before taking action on the important questions contained in the referendum.

“Throughout this period, the Government conducted a series of public meetings and initiatives whose purpose was to educate and stimulate community discussion on the issues of same-sex couples and marriage.

“The question of same-sex marriage has proved to be an emotive issue, and yet these meetings, which attracted hundreds of Bermudians, upheld a level of respect and civility that we as a community should be proud of, showing how well we can work together to address issues that matter to us.

“Ultimately, yesterday’s referendum was an important moment for Bermuda. And I want to take this opportunity to thank the Office of the Parliamentary Registrar and their management and oversight of yesterday’s process.

“There has been much discussed, much said and much shared throughout our community regarding the issue of same-sex relationships.

“And what is evident is that there are very passionate advocates for and against the matter. This has been and will continue to be a highly sensitive matter.

“Despite our differences we must progress forward. And my hope is that as we move forward as a country, we move ahead with greater tolerance, understanding and respect and appreciation for one another.”

TIMELINE

June 1: Bermudian Nicole Stoneham is sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court in a ceremony at Government House.

June 2: The Supreme Court upholds a Board of Inquiry finding that Apex Construction Management Limited only hired “black faces” in order to justify requests for work permits.

June 2: Premier Michael Dunkley rings the ceremonial closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

June 2: Gloria Daniels, the mother of missing Jevon Daniels, pleads that anyone with knowledge of his disappearance comes forward. The 35-year-old Sandys resident was last seen on May 16.

June 3: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Hellman dismisses an application by the Bermuda Parent Teacher Student Association for judicial review of decisions made by the Ministry of Education in relation to teacher transfers and the enactment of new Parent Council Rules.

June 3: The cahow chick that has been the star of the 2016 CahowCam livestream is named Tempest after the William Shakespeare play that was based on Bermuda’s founding wreck, the Sea Venture.

June 3: Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers to ever live, dies aged 74.

June 4: The Court of Appeal allows an appeal against conviction by Wolda Gardner, who was convicted by a Supreme Court jury of the shooting of George Lynch.

June 6: Government is investigating after a Public Works vehicle is photographed with a sticker supporting the ‘Preserve Marriage’ campaign.

June 7: The Supreme Court rules that being in custody is a relevant factor to be considered when the Legal Aid Committee reviews an application.

June 8: A 21-year-old man is in hospital with multiple gunshot sounds after a lone motorcycle rider opened fire on Middletown Drive, Pembroke shortly before 3.30pm.

June 10: Martha Dismont of Family Centre, and Bermuda Legion welfare case worker Carol Everson, are appointed Members of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Vernonica “Ronnie” Chameau, Deborah Lyn-Ann Gillett are awarded the British Empire Medal, Gary Douglas Staines is honoured with the Queen’s Police Medal, Calvin Lee Smith and Gregory MacArthur Grimes are awarded the Overseas Territories Police Medal, and Vivlyn Cooper, Edward “Eddie” Fisher, James “Jay” Kempe, Malcolm Kirkland, Troy Lewis and Alda Raposo each receive a Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour.

June 11: Bermuda celebrates the Queen’s 90th birthday with a parade in Hamilton and a special service at St Peter’s, Their Majesties Chappell in St George’s.

June 13: The House of Assembly approves almost $15 million in tax concessions to allow the redevelopment of the Elbow Beach and Surf Side hotel properties.

June 14: Sir John Swan announces his backing for same-sex marriage and civil unions.

June 15: The Supreme Court celebrates 400th anniversary with a special sitting.

June 16: A Royal Gazette poll shows majority of Bermudians oppose same-sex marriage, but are in favour of civil unions. A majority also believe there should not have been a referendum in the first place.

June 16: Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP, is shot dead by Thomas Mair on her way to a constituency meeting in Birstall.

June 17: Ground is broken on the site of the proposed Ritz-Carlton hotel at Morgan’s Point.

June 20: Fiqre Crockwell, the Bermuda cricketer, is shot and killed in a confrontation in Pembroke. Another man, later identified as Kirk Butterfield, is also stabbed.

June 20: A body found in bushes near Malabar Field is identified as being that of Jevon Daniels, who had been missing since May 19.

June 22: Tokia Russell, the former PHC footballer, dies in road accident.

June 23: Bermuda votes No twice in same-sex marriage referendum. The result is invalid as less than 50 per cent of the electorate bothers to take part.

June 24: Bermudian Troy Harris, 25, jailed for four years in the UK for assault.

June 28: Mark Pettingill vows to take fight for same-sex marriage to courts.

June 30: Shawn Crockwell announces that he will quit the One Bermuda Alliance and remain in Parliament as an independent.

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Published Dec 31, 2016 at 10:00 am (Updated Dec 31, 2016 at 9:20 am)

June: a time of division and change

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