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‘Law must recognise uniqueness of marriage’

Concerned Citizens of Bermuda hopes to launch a conversation about same-sex marriage after American speaker Ryan Anderson gave his second talk on the subject last night.

The formerly covert group organised the lectures to address the rising concerns of those opposed to same-sex marriage — worries that became more pertinent after the Supreme Court's ruling at the end of last month that those in same-sex partnerships with Bermudians should have the same rights to reside and seek employment as spouses of Bermudians.

In an interview with The Royal Gazette yesterday before his second public speech, Dr Anderson made his case by using rhetoric that defends marriage, rather than condemns same-sex relationships. He argued that dissolving marriage into contract law does not just redefine marriage, it abolishes it.

“It's unique for a reason and the law should recognise that,” he said. “This is the beginning of the conversation, not the end.

“This presentation is the first thing that the group have done on this issue and it's going to continue. They want to launch a conversation that's Island-wide. It's up to Bermudians to decide what you want marriage to be in your nation.”

Dr Anderson, who is a member of the conservative American think-tank the Heritage Foundation and lectures on the constitutional implications of same-sex marriage, said he had attempted to show why marriage should not be redefined. He said changing conceptions of human sexuality in the wake of the sexual revolution in the 1960s have created a “new understanding” of marriage and the family.

“It's that vision of human sexuality and of the family that has a logical chain that concludes with same-sex marriage,” he said, sharing in the concerns that Bermuda would inevitably follow the US.

Dr Anderson exemplified his case with the rise in non-marital child-bearing, a “hook-up culture”, cohabitation and the rising divorce rates.

“If you think all of those developments have been problematic it might give you reason for caution before legally redefining marriage and enshrining that vision of marriage into your law,” he said. “It then becomes much harder to say, marriage should be permanent, marriage should be exclusive, marriage should be monogamous. I think what we need to do is actually recover a sounder understanding of marriage rather than further dissolving it into contract law.”

He expressed fears of “jeopardising subsequent generations by tinkering with marriage and the family”.

“Why would the government be regulating our love lives?” he asked. “The government is in marriage because kids need moms and dads and this is their way of incentivising men and women to make commitments to each other and to their children.

“If you want a just society you want to structure it to be in the best interest of the weaker members of society. It's a personal relationship with a public purpose.”

He said the polarising nature of the debate often forces people to try to halt the discussion.

“If it's going to be decided it should be decided by the people after having a robust discussion with arguments on both sides.”

Public speech: visiting speaker Ryan Anderson discusses same-sex marriage at the New Testament Church of God's Heritage Worship Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 03, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 03, 2015 at 1:57 am)

‘Law must recognise uniqueness of marriage’

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