Straight talk on gay marriage

On some subjects, particularly ones whose fundamental nature is cultural or moral, there is no clear opportunity for compromise. In the Cayman Islands, same-sex marriage is one of these.

Here in Cayman, two groups have coalesced in regard to the topic: Those who are adamantly against same-sex marriage, civil unions or even nominal changes to the status quo — and, on the other side, everyone else.

The former group almost certainly constitutes the majority of Caymanian voters. The chasm separating the two sides is abyssal.

For example, consider the recent exchange of letters between Premier Alden McLaughlin and Human Rights Commission Chairman James Austin-Smith. While the tone of the correspondence is unfailingly civil (for that, we give the two gentlemen credit), it is obvious from the content that there could be no greater distance between Premier McLaughlin and Mr. Austin-Smith on this subject.

Premier McLaughlin is firmly on the side of Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden (whose fiery denunciations of homosexuality have made headlines) and the maintenance of existing legal arrangements, and Mr. Austin-Smith is on the other.

Mr. Austin-Smith’s commission has given three recommendations to the Progressives government, all of which Premier McLaughlin has either refused or ignored.

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The commission’s first recommendation was the introduction of legislation to recognize same-sex civil unions. Second, that the government outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Here’s the obvious truth: No elected government in Cayman, in the foreseeable future, will on its own volition attempt to legalize same-sex civil unions (or marriages) in this country. Judging by their remarks on the House floor, not only do most lawmakers personally disagree with same-sex marriage (or any step in that direction), but the prevailing popular consensus against same-sex marriage would make such an action political suicide. For similar reasons, there is probably little more appetite among our politicians to pursue anti-discrimination ordinances targeting a person’s sexual orientation.

Mr. Austin-Smith argues that in the event of a challenge to Cayman’s laws, the European Court of Human Rights would almost certainly rule against Cayman. That is possible. However, even if that does happen, we would expect Cayman’s authorities to resist taking any responsive action until and unless the U.K. steps in and forces these islands to do so.

Third, the commission recommended that Premier McLaughlin condemn “in the strongest possible terms” the language employed by Mr. Eden on the House floor, where he described homosexuality as, in a word, “evil.”

Here we are in agreement with Mr. Austin-Smith. As we have written in previous editorials, Mr. Eden has conducted himself in a manner that is unacceptable for an elected representative. Particularly when he called for Mr. Austin-Smith’s dismissal from his appointed position, based on religious beliefs (or lack thereof), Mr. Eden ran afoul of sacrosanct protections enshrined in Cayman’s Constitution.

It behooves Premier McLaughlin, and each responsible member of government, to take Mr. Eden to task for his regrettable remarks. Thus far, the silence has been deafening — but telling.

That is not to say we are in accordance with everything Mr. Austin-Smith says or does. Certainly not. We question why gay rights has ascended to cause célèbre status, amid the litany of potential human rights violations that occur systematically in Cayman on a daily basis.

Where, for example, was Mr. Austin-Smith when the government passed its motion financially punishing this newspaper for expressing our opinion against corruption in Cayman? Had not Mr. Austin-Smith even read the Cayman Constitution’s Bill of Rights which enshrines the right of free speech and protects those who practice it from political retribution?

Where does the commission stand on the issue of police eavesdropping on private citizens’ telecommunications?

What about the hundreds of people whose immigration status remains in limbo while the government dithers on their permanent residence applications? Or the thousands of people in Cayman who are denied the most basic right of political representation?

We are deeply concerned any time when a governmental appointee appears to be prioritizing his or her public agenda based on personal priorities or beliefs, a practice Mr. Austin-Smith would be well-advised to avoid.

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  1. I have lived in the Cayman Islands most of my life, and from the time I could remember, I used to hear people talking about Gays (queers) or what ever we call them.
    During these years and now, many of my associate friends are Gays, and they are all Caymanians. We used to hang out, went to clubs, had lunch, went to the movies and associated with ordinary people. They were always kind and very funny, never approached me on their ideas, and although I always wondered what was their agenda to be with each other.
    Back then I never heard one of them speaking about getting married to the other, and if they would have mentioned that I am sure I would have questioned what they would have gained from it.
    As I travelled the world and living in Cayman, I observe that being Gay had taken on a more serious approach with people.
    In growing up on the island; although brought up in church not a perfect teenager; I was inclined to follow the teachings of my grandmother, the church, and what the bible said about what was wrong and what was correct to do; and never though that two men being naked in a bed was funny at all.
    As I got older I then had the boldness of questioning some of my associates friends what was the purpose of being Gay, and their answer was that it was just more fun, and that the same sex persons got along better with each other.
    People who read my letters know, that I am not bias, If you hate the truth then you will hate me, and I speak from the heart; and it really does not matter who like or dislike.
    I really cannot find it in my heart to hate any gay people. But because of my strong Christian beliefs I cannot encourage same sex marriage or see two men in a bed naked as being funny. Also I have given thoughts as to the word "SIN" and so many things that the bible say is a sin, like fornicating, committing adultery, stealing, telling lies, and the list go on.
    I truly believe that what ever we do will be judged by a Higher Power, the Bible says so; and I also believe that instead of us causing hate among each other because of this "Straight talk on Gay marriage", we leave things that we have no power to deal with, the worse is yet to come. That is straight talk.

  2. What a lot of small minded leaders dont know is that they probably have relatives that are gay… hiding in fear, suppressing their true identities and living a lie because these rhetoric makes them believe they are demons. I was raised as a christian my whole life and that changed when my church made me decide between my faith and my own flesh and blood. My older sister told me she was gay and lived with depression in fear of how our parents would take it. I took her side and will love her no matter what but I also knew that my parents were strong enough to love God and love their OWN daughter.. she lived free and happy now. We live in a new world and my God preached love, so why are these religious politicians preaching HATE???? We don’t banish them for their marital infidelities.

  3. Most likely the only thing that will cause a change here is when it affects the tourism industry. Since the majority of tourists are from the US, where same sex marriage was recently legalized and there is currently a movement toward greater awareness of rights for gays, potentially a boycott scenario could arise if more and more talk like this becomes the norm. It wouldn’t just be a boycott from gays themselves which are pretty small in number, but also of many more liberal US and/or Canadian citizens who want to make a stand. Once tourism figures take a hit, we’ll see how ardent the MLA’s and Premier’s beliefs are.

  4. It’s the people of Cayman’s right to decide if they support gay marriage or not.
    Just be ready for the consequences of your decision. If Cayman wants to remain a tourist destination and a leader in finance, don’t get upset when major companies and groups of persons decide to no longer do business with us because of the decisions being made. Just look at what is happening in the rest of the world when it comes to this topic. Boycotts, court cases, divisiveness, businesses closing. We live in a global economy and being "politically correct" and "non-offensive" is all the rage these days.

  5. @Twyla Vargas

    I read most of your letters, at least the coherent ones, and I can’t say for sure that you aren’t biased. Nonetheless, I hope you also don’t encourage any of the following taken from the book of Leviticus (same book that says fornicating with the same sex is a sin):

    Eating – or touching the carcass of – any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)

    Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)

    Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5)

    Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9)

    Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)

    Cross-breeding animals (19:19)

    Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19)

    Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)

    Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)

    Selling land permanently (25:23)

    Working on the Sabbath (23:3)

    Mistreating foreigners – "the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born" (19:33-34) – ***This is a BIG one to remember here in Cayman***

  6. Mr Editor, it seems to me that you are focusing on one element of this issue, Gay marriage. Much more important is the general issue of Human Rights. As sub plots, yes gay marriage, and far more important, the ability of an atheist to chair the Commission on Human Rights in the Islands.
    HR laws have been adopted in the Islands because that is a requirement of the EU on all dependancies of member states. If we accept that such "rights" are reasonable, and frankly what reasonable person can deny it, then we must accept that a gay/homosexual person has the same rights as any other.
    We must also accept that an atheist person has equivalent rights to a person holding religious beliefs, ANY religious beliefs!
    The discussion surrounding Gay marriage has to be preceded by a discussion on Human Rights generally, that puts all the side effects of such legislation on the sidelines. If you do not believe that every human has such rights, then any other opinion you may hold can be judged accordingly!

  7. There is no straight talk about it, if you’re in to that lifestyle that’s your business keep it to yourself and stop trying to force everyone to accept it. Force only begets force. How you found the people here should be respected this is their way of life. To force them to change is evil in nature but you have been afforded the right to try so be happy because i know of some places that they would not be afforded this right at all.

  8. Steven you are a free man to think whatever you want, and it would seem to me that all the stones I threw only landed in your Pen.
    Further Please note the old Law has been done away with, people are saved by Grace.

  9. @Twyla
    "Please note the old Law has been done away with, people are saved by Grace"

    Conveniently it seems only the "Old Law" that fits the bill was done away with, as these "Old Laws" I mentioned were taken from the very same book that describes homosexuality as sin.

    Also, can you please provide the passage which tells that the "Old Law" is done away with? I’d like to see the part that it mentions which ones to forget about and which ones to uphold – thanks! (This is truly a genuine request)

  10. Steven, I do believe your request is genuine. First I would like you to turn to Romans 8 and read its entirety. What I do is I study my bible and listen to the teachings of those Pastors who are qualifies and know more than I do. So my honest suggestion is to contact one of Cayman’s Leading pastors, to name a few: Pastor Bob, Pastor Al, Pastor Winston and a few others, that can sit down with you and explain to you the truth about what I said. It is never too late to learn. I also believe that if you hear it coming from one of them you may be more incline to believe. So my suggestion is, if you really want to know the truth that " We are not under the old Law any more; it has been done away with" and we are now being saved by "Grace" Then my suggestion to you is to talk with any pastor of a true church, who can tell you the truth. We are not under the Old Law any more, we are being saved by Grace. Discuss with a true knowledgeable pastor any queries you may have, and I am sure he will explain to you where you can fit in and query about things you are not clear on about homosexual behavior or meat eating or anything else you want to know. I am very sure that if you do this you will obtain knowledge you never knew existed.

  11. Steven I also believe for you to grasp the real truth about what I said, I would suggest you begin with "Romans 6 and then continue to 8".
    If you do not get it from the beginning you will miss out on its revelation.
    When you are finished reading all three of those chapters and you are still not convinced then you have to see a pastor who is more versed in the word than me.

  12. Steven and Twyla, this discussion is beyond stupid!
    You are quoting from ancient texts, as though they were law today, they are not, we are all entitled to our religious beliefs, we may all decide how we live our lives, and we live in a time when we are all entitled to make up our own minds. What the "Pastor" has to say may direct you on religious matters, but not the law!

  13. Well Twyla, you do seem to read them. Judging by the thumbs up and thumbs down, many others do, and on balance they seem to agree with what I say, unlike your own offerings.
    As to stupid or otherwise, just try reading some of yours through before you post!

  14. I disagree with you, Arthur Rank.
    Comments from you toward Twyla have an attitude of superiority and disdain.
    Communication is about taking someone else’s perspective, understanding it, and responding. If you don’t understand, don’t throw rocks.
    Don’t ridicule an opinion just because it contradicts yours. And know your audience before starting finger pointing.