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Group calls for same-sex marriage referendum

Pressure group Preserve Marriage Bermuda has urged the Bermuda Government to call a referendum on same-sex marriage.

About 70 representatives of the “active task force” held a press conference in the Office Suite Solutions building in Mill Creek yesterday, where they also called for relevant changes in legislation to ensure that the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is not deemed discriminatory under the Human Rights Act.

The Human Rights Commission responded by saying it had not received any correspondence from PMB on the matter so far, but stressed that the opinion of the majority should not impinge on the right of equal treatment for minorities.

PMB also announced it would be holding a “peaceful demonstration” on the grounds of Cabinet next Tuesday at 12pm.

During the press conference, the group shared the group's three objectives, which were printed in The Royal Gazette yesterday.

Its first aim is to inform the public about “the truth” of the “failed experiment” of civil unions in other countries.

Group member Ray Madeiros said: “In the debate about traditional marriage versus same-sex marriage, a compromise introduced by some governments is the implementation of the civil union.

“However, the public must be fully informed that in almost every country that has redefined marriage, civil unions were introduced as the answer to this alleged discrimination.

“The public and our government was led to believe that this was the end of the matter. However, it inevitably leads to a legal fight for the separate and unequal argument that results in the redefinition of marriage.

“In light of the statistics, governments that introduce civil unions by default start the countdown to same-sex marriage. However, internationally, all countries that have legalised same-sex marriage, in all but one case, were preceded by introducing civil unions.”

The second objective is to pressure the Government to amend legislation.

Group member Jock Stewart said: “We seek to ensure that the Marriage Act 1944, the Interpretation Act 1951, the Matrimonial Clauses Act 1976, and the Human Rights Act 1981 are fortified to preserve marriage in Bermuda to remain between a man and woman for the benefits of our society because a father and a mother are irreplaceable.

“Government is involved in a personal promise of a male and a female married couple because it is of upward benefit to society as a whole.”

Finally, the group called for a referendum over the issue of marriage policy in Bermuda.

Pastor Gary Simons said: “We want to ensure that the few do not decide for the many. The Government should, first and foremost, uphold the ideal for the benefit of society hence we are requesting that the supremacy clauses be placed in the acts to ensure that marriage remains defined as being between a man and a woman and to do so expeditiously.

“If Government is unwilling to stand strong for the society of Bermuda then the voting population of Bermuda and their elective representatives must be free to deliberate and vote about marriage policy through a referendum and not by unelected judges.”

PMB said that the group represented people of all backgrounds and races including those from the faith and non-faith communities. Group member Henry Dowling later said: “We [PMB] exist to provide knowledge, direction and action to over 8,000 residents of Bermuda who have signed the petition for marriage to remain defined and upheld as a special union ordained by God between a man and a woman.”

While there was a mix of young and old, black and white members of the 70-strong group addressing the press yesterday, when asked, none attached themselves to the non-faith community.

Responding to the PMB announcement, president of the Human Rights Commission Tawana Tannock said: “The PMB group has not reached out to the HRC regarding their latest recommendation and we would like to take this opportunity to remind them that we are always available to address any questions that they may have about the mechanics and spirit of the Human Rights Act 1981.

“As stated numerous times previously, we remain committed to equality and respect for all.

“Additionally, we specifically reject the notion that the opinion of the majority should impinge on the right of equal treatment for minorities.”

PMB will attend a proclamation for Marriage Week today.

Sharing objectives: members of the Preserve Marriage group gathered to announce they would be holding a “peaceful demonstration” (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published February 05, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 05, 2016 at 8:07 am)

Group calls for same-sex marriage referendum

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