Thankful for second chance to think with my heart
We as a country are being given the opportunity to determine, by way of a referendum, if we support:
1, Same-sex civil unions
2, Same-sex marriage
Thirty years ago in Parliament, I did not support the Gay Rights Bill. It was a decision made with my head and not my heart.
I have always fundamentally believed in human rights and justice for all. I am fortunate to have been given a second chance by way of this process to categorically state that I am in favour of same-sex marriage, as all human beings under God's and universal law have every right of equality. Therefore, denying someone the opportunity to marry is discriminatory and creates a second class of citizens. I find any matter of discrimination abhorrent. We would be denying our brothers and sisters something that we take so much for granted, including protection under the law and the rights and privileges that every human being is entitled to.
Following are extracts from the Same Love Bermuda and Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda websites:
Same Love Bermuda's website cites Amnesty International as stating that:
Civil marriage between individuals of the same sex is an issue in which fundamental human rights are at stake. The denial of equal civil recognition of same-sex relationships prevents many people from accessing a range of other rights, such as rights to housing and social security, and stigmatises those relationships in ways that can fuel discrimination and other human rights abuses against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The failure of a state to recognise these relationships has grave consequences for same-sex couples and their children, including:
• Prohibiting a partner from making decisions on a partner's behalf when she or he is sick
• Prohibiting a partner from visiting a partner's child in hospital
• Preventing couples from sharing equal rights and equal responsibility for children in their care
• Preventing a partner and children from receiving employment-based benefits and being covered by health insurance
• Preventing inheritance from a deceased partner going to a surviving partner if he or she dies without a valid will
The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda has posted a letter written by Justin D. Brangman, which states:
“This isn't about an individual's conscience, no matter where the conscience guides them. It is not about the Church's right to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies if they fall outside their religious doctrine (which they should maintain). This is about the law being discriminatory against a group of citizens whose desire it is to be treated and afforded with the same dignity that everyone else has. We are overdue for action.”
This information has reinforced my belief that same-sex marriage should not be treated any differently than our legal custom and practice, and moral guidelines.
Therefore, I make it categorically clear that I shall be voting with my head and my heart in favour of same-sex marriage.
• Sir John Swan was the Premier of Bermuda from 1982 to 1995
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