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We deserve to know where politicians stand

Time for action: to flirt with the idea of changing the legislation when election time comes is not only dubiously opportunistic; without action, it’s dishonest

In recent months, the issue of same-sex marriage has been a topic that has caused a great deal of debate in our island home.

While I personally believe in the union between a man and a woman, I don’t support discrimination in any shape, form or fashion. We are all human and equal on this basis, therefore not one of us is perfect and none of us should be discriminated against based on how we live our lives, so long as we do not impose on the liberties of others. A person’s sexual orientation should not exclude them from being treated fairly and because of that I believe that same-sex couples should be given the right to marry in Bermuda.

I was a raised in a Christian home, attended a Christian school during my middle school and high school years, and to this day I maintain my Christian faith. As a result, I am well aware that there are those who oppose same-sex marriage on the basis that “scripture says it is wrong”. Even if one accepts that it does — not all Christians agree on this — scripture also says that other things are wrong. For instance, it says we shouldn’t wear mixed linens; men shouldn’t be in the same house as their wives when they’re menstruating; and that we shouldn’t sow your field with two kinds of seed. Do we all live by this? We see this in Leviticus 19:19:

“You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.”

The Bible also implores Christians to avoid judging others, as it is not in the authority of any man to judge another for how they live. “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”James 4:12 (English Standard Version)

It’s my humble belief that as Christians, we should live our faith and not attempt to legislate it. We can believe in something without imposing that belief on others; one cannot inspire those whom they insult. Giving individuals the right of same-sex marriage takes absolutely none away from those who don’t support or practise it. Bermuda is a small island; many of her inhabitants practise different faiths and lifestyles. Issues such as this can cause a great deal of polarisation, but it is important to respect our differences, whether or not we can understand them. We need compassion and an understanding that we are all equal.

The issue of same-sex marriage manifests in many different ways and affects Bermuda’s younger generation to a great extent. Young people are just as divided on the issue as others. There are some young people who are vehemently opposed to allowing same-sex marriage; they mirror the perspective that marriage should follow a heteronormative convention. At the same time, there are young people who keep their homosexuality hidden because of the overriding popularity of that belief. Whether or not a person agrees with the lifestyle is irrelevant to some of our young people, who feel they have no choice about their sexuality.

Individuals have chosen to sign petitions supporting both sides, and I respect that; it is their unalienable right do so. Having said that, I call upon politicians on both sides of the floor, in both the Upper House and Lower House, to take into consideration both petitions, to consult their constituents and then take the matter to Parliament to be debated and voted on. Alternatively, there is the option of a referendum.

However, taking no action and refraining from making a decision on the matter is far from leadership on both sides. To flirt with the idea of changing the legislation when election time comes is not only dubiously opportunistic; without action, it’s dishonest.

There is no better time than the present, and Bermudians deserve to know where their legislative representatives stand on the matter. Please don’t allow yourself to be beholden to your party line; show the Bermudian public that you can maintain your independence of both mind and deed. There will be some pleased with the decision and some not so pleased. But, whatever the result, we all have to respect that democracy has taken its course.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”Martin Luther King Jr