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‘To redefine marriage is wrong’

On Thursday, the people of Bermuda will go to the polls for the referendum on same-sex marriage and same-sex civil unions.

Jonathan Bell and Sam Strangeways spoke to residents on either side of the

debate to find out why they will be voting “yes” or “no”.

Voting “no” twice in Thursday's referendum is a deeply held imperative for Allan and Mildred Hunt of Heart to Heart Marriage Mentoring Ministries.

Both firmly disavow hate speech towards homosexuals, but just as firmly consider tampering with marriage to be a gateway to disaster.

“The argument about human rights is an excuse,” Mr Hunt told The Royal Gazette.

On issues such as inheritance between same-sex partners, Mr Hunt advised couples to “do your due diligence and ensure that whoever you love is in your will”.

Added his wife, with whom he shares a 46-year marriage: “To redefine marriage, to me, is wrong. If you desire to go somewhere else and get married, do so. For small Bermuda, there is no chance of being insulated from it; everything is going to be right in your face.”

The Hunts pointed to examples of businesses in the United States going bust for finding themselves morally unable to cater to same-sex couples.

They also voiced alarm at a surprise ruling by Canada's Supreme Court this month, in which justices for a man appealing a bestiality conviction found that sex acts upon animals were only illegal if penetration was involved.

Tampering with marriage, Mr Hunt said, could genuinely “open the floodgates”.

“Nobody would have ever, ever thought that would have happened in Canada; I could not believe it,” he said.

“The first marriage recorded is in the first book of the Bible, between Adam and Eve,” he added, concurring with his wife that marriage is “most definitely” fundamentally religious, as well as “natural common sense”.

The two are uncompromising on civil unions, which they feel inevitably leads to the erosion of marriage.

“Civil unions are precursors to same-sex marriages,” Mrs Hunt maintained.

However, at a prayer vigil last week by the group Preserve Marriage, Mr Hunt insisted that “if anyone had started up with hatemongering, I would have asked them to leave”.

The group also prayed for the victims of the mass shooting at the Florida gay nightclub, Pulse, that left 49 dead that same day.

Although the Hunts believe that homosexual sex is an affront to natural law and in some cases medically dangerous, they are adamant that they love all without exception as Christians, and would not be swayed even if same-sex marriage were passed.

Mrs Hunt is an educator, while her husband is an engineer, but the two have a long career as marriage counsellors, and both said they recognised that marriage takes hard work.

They summed up their view as “healthy marriages create healthy family, and healthy marriages create strong children”.

“If you strengthen marriage, you have healthier families,” Mrs Hunt added.

Asked how he responded to the view that homosexuality is inherent and cannot be a choice or lifestyle, Mr Hunt said: “I don't know about DNA and I'm not prepared to make a statement on something I don't know.

“We can never draw a conclusion in any way to be hateful.”

He drew an analogy to tree limbs, which will alter their direction of growth if tied into new configurations, adding: “To change the order of things to satisfy the desires of adults is equally as wrong as children being abused for the same reasons.

“I draw my case again to what is happening in Canada, which is something I would never have realised. What's next?”

• On occasion, The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on what we consider to be a controversial or contentious story. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers

Pro same sex marriage supporters and preserve marriage demonstrators both make their options know on the grounds of Cabinet building (Photograph David Skinner)

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Published June 21, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 21, 2016 at 9:51 am)

‘To redefine marriage is wrong’

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