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Mother’s pride at gay son’s marriage bid

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A mother has described her gay son and his partner as “very courageous” for launching a bid to have Bermuda's first same-sex marriage.

Sylvia Hayward-Harris told The Royal Gazette it was typical of her son Ijumo Hayward to “not worry about public approval or disapproval” and typical of their family to try to change things for the better.

Mr Hayward, 46, and his American partner Clarence Williams III, 40, filed a notice of their intended marriage with the Registrar-General on Tuesday, through their lawyer Mark Pettingill.

If notice of the nuptials is not published in the Official Gazette by close of business today, in accordance with the Marriage Act 1944, Mr Pettingill will seek an order from the Supreme Court to force the Registrar to publish it and allow them to wed.

Ms Hayward-Harris, an ordained pastor, will perform the ceremony next summer if they are successful in their legal bid.

“I do see it as historic,” she said. “There's a very strong feeling of pride. It's something it seems that our family are fated to do. We try to change the world we live in for the better.

“My brother [Stuart], my mother [Mary Jackson Hayward], my father [Lance Hayward] — it seems to run in the blood. It's not really surprising; it's interesting that it should happen at this time.”

The mother of two said it was coincidental that the application was made in the same week that a prominent American same-sex marriage opponent, Ryan Anderson, was giving two talks here and just days after a Supreme Court ruling that same-sex partners of Bermudians should be given the same rights as heterosexual spouses.

She added: “This island is odd.”

Ms Hayward-Harris said it was “very courageous of both of them” to make the application and potentially make legal history as the first gay couple to get permission to marry in Bermuda.

“In one sense, I am not surprised that my son would step forward like that. He's just been that kind of guy. He is self-contained and he's not worried about public approval or disapproval, which I really appreciate. I wasn't as brave when I was young but stepping forward and trying to do the right thing is something to really be applauded for.”

She revealed that her 6ft 4in son, a basketball star while a student at Warwick Academy and now a photographer in Atlanta, was subjected to a homophobic attack several years ago on the Island.

“I feel for those who live here, who have to deal with it on a regular basis,” she said. “I have already had phone calls from irate family members: ‘how could I perform the ceremony, didn't I know this was wrong and not biblical'. I have, in my studies, a different interpretation of a lot of what people say the Bible says.

“I believe in the whole Jesus concept. You love people and there is no judgment. They have their belief system and I have mine and I'm living true to mine.”

Family portrait: Ijumo Hayward with his parents, the late Lionel Baisden and Sylvia Hayward-Harris, in a picture taken in Atlanta last year (Photograph supplied)
Me and my boy: Ijumo Hayward with his mother, Sylvia Hayward Harris (Photograph supplied)

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Published December 04, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 04, 2015 at 9:23 am)

Mother’s pride at gay son’s marriage bid

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