Love trumps hate.
This double entendre that rose to prominence during President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign is something that many people of the Cayman Islands need to be reminded of.
Since Justice Anthony Smellie’s landmark decision last Friday to legalize same sex marriage, the support that members of the public have shown for the judgement in favour of Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush has been heartwarming. But it is the bigotry shown by a substantial proportion of our population that has deeply troubled me.
While I applaud Governor Martyn Roper for publicly expressing his support for “equals rights for all” as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for welcoming the decision, it is the rhetoric from our MLAs as well as members of the public that I take great issue with. Premier Alden McLaughlin released a statement on Wednesday expressing that he instructed the Attorney General to appeal the decision citing “the telephone calls, WhatsApp, and text messages” that he received from those who feel “wronged by the decision”. This makes me question whether this appeal is motivated by the Premier being concerned about the public’s opinion of him and his government as a whole, with elections coming up in two years, rather than the future legal implications that this decision may have, which is the argument he attempts to make. However, Alden McLaughlin is not the only MLA I take issue with. A private motion seeking review of the judgement was put forward by Arden McLean and seconded by Anthony Eden, two politicians who are notorious for their opposition to the LGBT community, with Anthony Eden previously labeling homosexuals as “wicked and immoral”. In addition, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly referred to last Friday as “Black Friday” and strongly encouraged members of the public to attend the private marriage ceremony between Day and Bodden Bush, in order to protest and disrupt the ceremony.
I find it extremely difficult to fathom why these members of the Legislative Assembly, who supposedly have our nation’s best interests at heart, feel the urge to appeal this long overdue decision that simply grants homosexual couples the same right to marriage that heterosexual couples have had. While education inspectors recently rated Prospect Primary School as “satisfactory”, failing to receive a “good” rating, and Savannah Primary School was rated as “weak” in the majority of areas inspected, the MLAs postponed the day’s business to allow the aforementioned private member’s motion. I find it difficult to believe that the most pressing issue for government to deal with at the moment is to deny the granting of equal rights to all Caymanians, regardless of their sexual orientation.
In addition to this, the photos of protesters outside the Legislative Assembly and the comments that I have seen on social media have repulsed me. While I appreciate the fact that opinions differ, and people have the right to freedom of speech in order to express these differing opinions, I have no empathy for those calling for the death of homosexuals.
It is difficult to understand why people are so strongly opposed to the granting of equal rights to their fellow country people. The granting of equal rights to homosexuals does not detract from the rights that heterosexuals previously had, rather they are simply being granted the same rights that they had previously been denied. It has no impact on the lives of others, rather it just allows individuals such as Miss Day and Miss Bodden Bush to be recognized as each other’s spouse, giving them and their daughter the right to a private and family life.
The government and citizens of our country have much more pressing issues to deal with than appealing the granting of equal human rights to our fellow Caymanians, rights that are enjoyed by citizens of almost every developed nation in the world. The government could focus on improving the standard of education in our public schools, or the much-needed implementation of sufficient infrastructure for commuters to and from the eastern districts. Likewise, Caymanians could put their time and energy towards helping the members of our community living in severe poverty, or protest more significant issues such as the proposed cruise berthing facility, that will have detrimental economic and environmental impacts on our islands.
I would like to encourage the individuals in opposition to Justice Smellie’s decision to rethink their malevolent actions and words and remind them of one thing:
Love trumps hate.