Mr. Eden’s regrettable remarks on the floor of the House

“It is a tale … full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing.”
–From “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

We refer, of course, not to the tragedy played out on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in the early 1600s but to the comedy that is played out all too often on the stage of Cayman’s Legislative Assembly.

Our orator, in this instance, was not a thespian but a politician, a man ordinarily of few words – but not on Thursday of last week. The Hon. Anthony Eden, nearly an hour after he began his soliloquy, finally (and thankfully) yielded the floor, leaving all of us in Cayman to ponder the wisdom – or lack thereof – of his message.

The quote from Shakespeare cited above is widely believed to be one of his most memorable. We fear that Mr. Eden’s speech likewise will be recalled when future generations reminisce about the legend, lore and leaders of these islands.

For those who missed it, the Bodden Town representative was speaking in support of his own motion which would maintain the definition of marriage in the Cayman Islands as being between a man and a woman. Nothing wrong with that.

Then things started getting a little bit, er, odd. Mr. Eden proclaimed his own motion to be “one of the most important motions for this House and the people of the Cayman Islands.”

Of course, it was no such thing, since it merely underscored what is already contained in the Cayman Constitution Order 2009, namely that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Mr. Eden’s motion, which passed the House unanimously, added nothing to that enshrined principle.

Mr. Eden (apparently) was reacting to a recommendation from the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission that the government enact legislation recognizing civil unions between same-sex couples. These unions would give same-sex couples similar legal rights to those enjoyed by married couples. The Human Rights Commission made the recommendation because of a recent ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that found Italy was in breach of established human rights principles for failing to offer enough legal protection for same-sex unions. Since the Cayman Islands falls within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, not enacting legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions could lead to successful court challenges.

Whether Mr. Eden understands the difference between a marriage and a civil union was unclear (and largely unimportant) judging from the content of his speech. What was clear, however, was his hostility – even loathing – for his homosexual brethren on these islands and elsewhere.

His rhetoric was largely Bible-based with Satan playing a starring role in his belief system – not a bad choice for an evangelical preacher, but perhaps less so for an influential and, one would hope, well-reasoned political leader.

No one in Cayman stands ahead of the Compass when it comes to defending freedom of speech, but wise people, especially legislators who are perceived to speak not only for these islands but their people, ought to be more careful.

The days are long gone when remarks such as Mr. Eden’s are contained to the audience of those who live and visit here. Legislators should keep in mind that “the whole wide world is watching” – always.

If the purpose of Mr. Eden’s discriminatory diatribe was to confirm the Cayman Islands’ adherence to Christian values, it failed. Where it succeeded was to put the Cayman Islands back in the international spotlight as an intolerant, homophobic country (reminiscent of the “gay cruise ship debacle” or the “gay kissers” episode on Seven Mile Beach).

And for that, we should all feel truly concerned – and embarrassed.

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  1. Mr. Eden should be more than embarrassed. He should be ashamed.

    And he should resign.

    And the rest of the political establishment should also be ashamed that none of them, other than the admirable Wayne Panton, has spoken up to denounce this hateful, bigoted rant.

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  2. Yes, embarrassing that Mr. Eden held the LA hostage for an hour as he discoursed against gay marriage. Homophobic, yes. Intolerant, yes. Has Mr. Eden never heard about "live and let live"? Discrimination is ugly; loathing his brethren for their choice of lifestyles is awfully sad.That Mr. Eden would proclaim that his motion in favour of marriage between a man and a woman was one of the most important "for this House and the Caymanian people". Begging to differ – Mr. Eden’s unpleasant diatribe was as important as Aesop’s frog puffing himself up fit to bust. Freedom of speech still exists in the Cayman Islands, and not a one of us has to agree with The Hon. Anthony Eden’s ethos.

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  3. Well said Mr. Editor. Mr Eden is clearly passionate in his beliefs so far as his own religion is concerned, but he confuses the matter of marriage and legal union. Anyone may choose their religious beliefs but it is wrong to assume that they are relevant to others because we are all free to embrace any faith or none. It is also dangerous to quote from a part of the Bible, because whilst that may be relevant to him, to those of another faith, it is not. The law is what is at issue here, not religion, and the LA is there to decide on matters of law.

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  4. I think that many people from the Shakespeare-era had far more enlightened views than some of these MLAs today.

    You say regrettable, I”d say embarrassing and shameful.

    It is good to see from the thumbs ups, that Eden et al, truly do not represent the opinions of most residents.

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  5. CC: “For those who missed it, the Bodden Town representative was speaking in support of his own motion which would maintain the definition of marriage in the Cayman Islands as being between a man and a woman. Nothing wrong with that.”
    I’m glad to hear that the Compass “sees nothing wrong with that”, because in many cases pro same-sex couples do in fact see something “wrong” with marriage being limited (legally and morally) to “between one man and one woman”. Especially from other radical leftist media/blog organizations on this Island.
    I didn’t hear what Mr. Eden had to say beyond the motion, however there is legitimate concern behind this initiative that warrants further discussion despite some media outlet’s opportunistic labeling of just about anyone with dissenting views, as religious nuts filled with hate and bigotry.
    For example, there is in fact much evidence that same sex civil unions are only a red herring to the eventuality of same sex marriages forced to be recognized by schools (religious or otherwise), churches and other faith based organizations. See: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe=off&q=lgbt+sues+church (If a link is not functional, search LGBT sues church/school on Google). Where the true motive behind the movement being NOT to get equal benefits, rather to eventually force the entirety of the public, including schools and churches, to accept same sex unions as “morally equal” to traditional church recognized marriages, where no institutions will be able to discriminate between the two marriages irrespective of their moral commitments. This means that the literature and teachings for schools could have to be eventually altered to include diversified marriages. And the list goes on.
    There is plenty on Google for anyone whom wishes to so some research on the subject.
    I have no issues with someone wanting to cohabit and share benefits and resources with whomever. However I do have a major issue with a group targeting Christianity’s moral foundations, religious institutions, the country’s heritage and the general public’s desire to keep “marriage” between a single man and a single woman, many strongly believe designed to build strong family units. There is plenty of evidence that these initiatives are truly about making diversified unions as a “moral equal” in the view of all institutions and public or private. In fact, if you push this debate, you will find that using words like “morally equal” is already viewed as bigoted and offensive and that in itself should be your warning sign.

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  6. I wonder what it says in the bible about sexually abusing young girls? Is this the work of Satan or some depraved men of the Cayman Islands? Report: 1 in 5 girls sexually abused in the Cayman Islands? See: CaymanCompass.com Published 13 May, 2015 by James Whittaker.

    I’m afraid the holier than thou hypocrisy of some Cayman leaders is readily apparent for all to see – they need simply open their eyes.

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  7. As a proud openly married gay man, who was equally proud to call Cayman home for 7 years, and still call Cayman my number one tourist destination that I frequent every year with my husband, this is appalling.

    Hate in the name of God is still hate.

    Thankfully it is very clear to me that the majority of Caymanian are on the right side of this issue. Mr. Eden represents a small vocal minority of people who live in a world, where a book written when everyone still believed the world was flat is the appropriate guide to modern life.

    I”m not dissing God. Even the Pope has a more modern view than Mr. Eden.

    I will still visit Cayman with my husband, because we have never actually felt any homophobia while on the island. I actually don”t know any homophobic Caymanians, and I am happy to say I am lucky to know a lot of Caymanians.

    I hope Mr. Eden”s rant is the catalyst for change. It seems to have charged up a lot of open minded people.

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  8. I just read both of these stories to refresh my memory.

    Should this really surprise anyone, it’s a known fact that for the most part people in Cayman are intolerant to anything foreign to them no matter what the color of your skin. Labels like ‘Driftwood’ are common in Cayman when referring to outsiders and even if you go through the strenuous process of becoming a Caymanian by law, you still never get the recognition from the community that you are a part of it. So why would anyone expect anything different when it comes to members of the LGBT Community.

    My person feeling regarding homosexuality may not be that supportive of the way they chose to live their life. But I am a huge supporter of people’s right to live their lives that way they choose.

    This a rather large group with deep pockets and the last thing Cayman needs to do is get on their bad side. That doesn’t mean that they or anyone should be allowed to make out in public or get married on the steps of the LA. I kiss my wife all the time in public, but I am adult enough to know that excessive public displays of affection can make other people uncomfortable no matter what your sexual orientation is.

    Mr. Eden needs to control what comes out of his mouth a little bit more or else he might end up being punished like Ozzie and given a cushy job where he doesn”t have to work as hard any longer for the same pay.

    http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2008/05/07/Today-s-Editorial-for-May-7–Gay-kisser-story-evokes-responses/

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  9. There is a financial cost here too.

    Cayman has a reputation as a premium wedding destination, Mr. Eden’s comments have alienated an entire revenue source for that sector.

    Not only will they not be coming here to get married, they will likely be asking their financial advisor’s to avoid Cayman based investment funds as well.

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  10. @ Michael Davis

    Who are you trying to get to support your point of view?

    You start by insulting Caymanians with, "it’s a known fact that for the most part people in Cayman are intolerant to anything foreign to them."

    I do not believe this is true of most Caymanians. I certainly have spent a lot of time there as an expat and as a tourist and never felt that from most people.

    Then you go on to insult homosexuals by saying, "My personal feeling regarding homosexuality may not be that supportive of the way they chose to live their life. But I am a huge supporter of people’s right to live their lives that way they choose."

    We do not choose to be gay. We are in fact born this way.

    So if you want people to support you, you might try to express your views without alienating both sides of the argument at the same time; Caymanians and Homosexuals.

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  11. @L Wall,
    I am not seeking any support for my point of view, because it’s my own personal opinion and doesn’t need support from anyone else to exist.
    My comments are not meant to insult anyone, they are basically an expression of my opinion. As far as my opinion on Caymanian intolerance, I get that impression from my dealings with those who refer to themselves as such things as born Caymanians or in some cases true Caymanians that feel everything wrong in Cayman is due to foreign influences on the island, Every crime is committed by an expat, every unemployed Caymanian is due to an employed foreigner or that everyone who went through the process of obtaining the right to live in Cayman is referred to as only a paper Caymanian or driftwood and are not actually a part of the Caymanian community and I see this attitude exude from the leaders of Cayman down to their constituents. Reading the comments to stories in Cayman’s media websites only reaffirm this opinion to me, so I call it as I see it.
    As for my comment "My personal feeling regarding homosexuality may not be that supportive of the way they chose to live their life. But I am a huge supporter of people’s right to live their lives that way they choose." It firmly stick by that because everyone chooses the way they decide to live their life, whether they are members of the LGBT community or not, you chose to spend your life with your husband just as I chose to spend my life with my wife, in each case it’s our own human right to choose how we live and who we love, although sometimes we don’t have much control over who we fall in live with.
    You may not realize this but I am not your enemy, while I may not march at parades in support of the LGBT community, I do acknowledge everyone’s human rights so no need to be on the defense.

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  12. One of the fundamental problems that Cayman has had over the year’s is that no proper discussion was had about how and what we wanted our society to look like over time. We have allowed money and greed to guide many of our decisions and the end result will be disaster.

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  13. Let Mr. Eden’s remarks go. Do you have to react to everyone’s words? Move on. Forget about it. You can’t crucify a person because they don’t agree with you, your life choices, your behavior, your thinking. Nor, should you expect everyone in this world to live the same way. Go about your life and be the best person you can. Do good.

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  14. Online comments foster misinterpretation. No one can offend you unless you choose to be offended.
    However I disagree with those who talk about "your life choices, your behavior."
    Gay and transgender people are born this way. They were created by whomever this way. They were and are being born into bodies and into conditions where they just have driving impulses that are different from what everybody else expects them to have.
    They are what they are. They are normal. If you don’t like it, it is your problem, not their problem.
    People should stop running around and bully everybody to be the way they need them to be.
    Diversity is the platform from which all evolutions springs forth.

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  15. I have noticed a lot of words used in recent years to describe ideas and principles held by Eden and others in the West.

    Regrettable.

    Discriminatory.

    Bigoted.

    Homophobic.

    Hateful.

    All words used by progressive and liberal reactions that adhere to the goodness of same-sex relationships and the dignity of gay men, women and children.

    However, I think that the same progressives and liberals are hesitant to use more accurate words out of consideration that they mimic those of Eden and others like him.

    Dishonorable.

    Wicked.

    Depraved.

    Degenerate.

    Evil.

    Words used to describe gay men, women and children by those like Eden who pretend that they alone know the will of the gods. I think that we, as liberals and progressives, must reclaim these words to accurately describe and oust villains like Eden who suppress others to elevate his own position, pretending that his wickedness comes from rightful contemplation of the divine.

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  16. It is my opinion that marriage to me is between a MAN and a Woman. Now can you not give me leeway to believe and think as I wish. Most importantly is the right to say as I wish. Mr. Eden has a right to speak as he wishes. Just as you all have that right. Think about it.

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  17. It is my opinion that marriage to me is between a MAN and a Woman. Now can you not give me leeway to believe and think as I wish. Most importantly is the right to say as I wish. Mr. Eden has a right to speak as he wishes. Just as you all have that right. Think about it.

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