Over the course of three days in late July, Caymanians were treated to a wide range of opinions from their elected representatives over the Domestic Partnership Bill.
The bill – which would have given same-sex couples the ability to enter into a union with legal benefits equivalent to marriage – was ultimately defeated by the narrowest of margins.
In this story
Anthony Eden on sexual identity
Anthony Eden’s letter from a gay person
Alva Suckoo on population growth
Juliana O’Connor-Connolly on gay gene
Dwayne Seymour on the moon
Dwayne Seymour on decreasing same-sex marriages
Kenneth Bryan on his poll
Anthony Eden on increase of LGBTQ community in US
Anthony Eden on regional sentiment toward homosexuality
Anthony Eden on Sweden’s laws
Anthony Eden on Canada’s school system
In his remarks in the Legislative Assembly, Premier Alden McLaughlin said he “tried really hard to frame this debate and focus on what the issue is, which would as far as possible preclude, or certainly not provoke, angry statements about the evils of homosexuality and the gay lifestyle”.
It did not work.
The debate turned bizarre at times. One MLA’s contribution cited the moon’s impact on women’s “sexual desire”.
“This is not irresponsible. This is about saving a nation,” he said.
More than one representative cited misrepresentations of research on the topic, according to the researchers themselves.
The Cayman Compass took a closer look into some of the MLA’s contributions, separating fact from fiction, and in many cases filling in the blanks.
Electoral District: Savannah
Claims: The development of sexual identity will be impaired among children of same-sex
parents. Children brought up by lesbian mothers or by gay fathers will themselves become lesbian or gay people. Children of same-sex parents will be more vulnerable to mental breakdown.
What was said: “This was the American Psychological Association back on the 29th of July, 2015,” Eden said. “The concerns by then the judiciary. In addition to judicial concerns about lesbian and gay parents themselves, courts have voiced three major fears about the influence of lesbian and gay parents on children. The first of these fears is that development of sexual identity will be impaired among children of this belief. For instance, one such concern is that children brought up by lesbian mothers or gay fathers will show disturbances in gender identity and or in gender role behaviour. It has been suggested that children brought up by lesbian mothers or by gay fathers will themselves become lesbian or gay people.”
“A second category of concerns involves aspects of children’s personal development other than sexual identity. For example, courts have expressed fears that children in the custody of lesbian or gay parents will be more vulnerable to mental breakdown, will exhibit more adjustment difficulties and behaviour problems, and will be less psychologically healthy than others.”
What’s missing: Those were topics identified and then addressed in the publication titled “Lesbian and Gay Parenting,” which was published in 2005.
Gary W. Harper, one of the report’s authors, told the Compass that Eden’s interpretation of his paper is “disturbing”.
“It really is the complete opposite from what our report showed,” he said in a phone interview. “The data is clear. There isn’t even a grey area. The evidence is solid.”
Harper wrote in his report: “The development of gender identity among children of lesbian mothers follows the expected pattern,” citing multiple studies, adding: “There was no evidence in any of the studies of gender identity of any difficulties among children of lesbian mothers.”
Citing more studies, the author wrote: “The research suggests that children of lesbian mothers develop patterns of gender-role behavior that are much like those of other children.”
Regarding the claim made by Eden that “Children brought up by lesbian mothers or by gay fathers will themselves become lesbian or gay people,” the author comes to the opposite conclusion.
“The data do not suggest elevated rates of homosexuality among the offspring of lesbian or gay parents,” he wrote in the publication cited by Eden.
Source: “Lesbian and Gay Parenting,” a joint publication of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns; Committee on Children, Youth, and Families; and Committee on Women in Psychology
Claims: Mr. Eden read a letter into the record purportedly written by a gay expatriate in November 2015.
What was said: “One gay person or couple should not have influenced the government to act without speaking to their people on the matter,” the letter read.
What’s missing: The letter appears to be an anonymous comment posted to an article on a local news blog five years ago. There is no way to verify whether the commenter is who he says he is.
Electoral District: Newlands
Claim: Cayman’s population could more than triple if a bill permitting same-sex unions becomes law.
What was said: “Think about what this is going to do to the population of this country. We’ll be more than 100,000 (people), we’ll probably be 200,000 or 300,000, because people are already thinking about it… It (the bill) is an open door to immigration into the Cayman Islands.”
What’s missing: A Caymanian lawyer told the Compass that the proposed bill would not “open the floodgates”.
“The immigration system is currently robust enough to deal with sham marriages, therefore it would be robust enough to deal with sham domestic partnerships.
“There seems to be an undercurrent of discrimination on this, because it seems to suggest that the reality is homosexual couples are far more likely to break this law than heterosexual couples, which I would suggest is not backed up by any evidence whatsoever that I’m aware of.”
Among more than two-dozen countries that have approved same-sex marriage, no country’s population has tripled.
Electoral District: Cayman Brac East
What was said: O’Connor-Connolly cited an article by Reverend Paul Sullins titled ,“Born That Way” No More: The New Science of Sexual Orientation, which referenced a study in the journal Science.”
She read: “A new study adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that the dominant narrative about sexual orientation – that it is genetically determined – simply cannot be true.”
What’s missing: For her contribution, O’Connor-Connolly relied on the reverend’s interpretation of the 2019 study. However, a co-author of that paper, Brendan Zietsch, told the Compass that the Sullins’ interpretation quoted by O’Connor-Connolly makes two “major” errors: “First, it incorrectly claims that our findings about the heritability of same-sex sexual behaviour – i.e. that it is influenced but not determined by genes – proves that gay and lesbian individuals are not ‘born that way’. In fact, it is thought that the prenatal environment – for example, hormonal effects in the womb – also affects development of adult sexual orientation. Though the details of these prenatal effects are not yet fully understood, current scientific knowledge does not preclude gay and lesbian people having been born that way,” Zietsch said.
“Second, the article incorrectly claims that there is a movement to force gay and lesbian people to have sex with and marry same-sex persons.”
Electoral District: Bodden Town East
What was said: Speaking for “the voice of the voiceless” and “the face of the faceless”, Seymour said he has a “very special connection” to the moon: “The thing about the moon is we have more energy. We feel more extroverted and connected to our partners, and have more interest in sex due to the gravitational pull of the moon and Earth, and the consequent energy released during this time. If you didn’t know, a full moon increases women’s sexual desire. The lunar cycle seems to affect women of all shapes and sizes … This is not irresponsible, this is about saving a nation.”
What’s missing: Any supporting evidence. The next full moon is 2 Sept. if you want to check for yourself.
Claim: Instances of gay marriages actually fell after same-sex marriage laws were approved in some countries.
What was said: “Research has shown that even after same-sex marriages were passed in some countries, gay marriages didn’t go up, but found that heterosexual marriages went down.”
What’s missing: Any supporting evidence.
Claim: A statistical correlation exists between same-sex marriage and a country’s fertility rate.
What was said: “The countries that have legalised, or are considering legalising, same-sex marriage have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world.”
What’s missing: The country with the lowest fertility rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – South Korea – does not allow same-sex unions.
Cyprus and Japan, also among the lowest, do not permit such unions.
The three countries with the highest fertility rates in the OECD either allow same-sex marriages or grant some rights to same-sex couples. Israel, for example, recognises same-sex unions performed in other countries even though they are not performed in the country. It has the highest fertility rate in the OECD.
MLA Electoral District: George Town Central
What was said: “I held a vote on this issue. Under the seriousness of such a vote, I did my job to ask the people what they thought about the bill after doing everything I can to educate them.”
The first question asked, “As a registered voter for the constituency of George Town Central, do you wish for your representative, Mr. Kenneth Bryan, to vote in favour of the government’s proposed domestic partnership Bill – yes or no?” A second question asked, “Do you believe there should be a national vote on the government’s proposed domestic partnership bill – yes or no?””
“The results are as follows. In respect to question one … 236 persons voted in question one. 43 persons voted yes, equalling to 18%. One-hundred ninety-three persons voted no – 81.77%.”
“In respect to question two … 196 persons voted yes, equalling to 83.76% and 38 persons voted no, equalling to 16.23%.”
What’s missing: Nothing. In his Legislative Assembly contribution, Bryan was upfront that the 25 July vote resulted in about 18% of the 1,265 eligible voters in his district casting a ballet. The Elections Office told the Compass it “had no involvement with MLA Kenneth Bryan’s voting process”.
Claim: The percentage of American adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender more than doubled recently.
What was said: “Two years ago it was estimated that about 2% of the United States shared these feelings that we’re talking about today so gloriously. Probably it’s up to about 5%.”
What’s missing: According to LGBT Demographic Data Interactive for The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law in 2019, 4.5 % of US adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. In 2011, the Williams Institute estimated that ratio at 3.5%. Kerith Conron, research director at the Williams Institute, attributed the increase to more people being comfortable answering questions about their sexual orientation.
Claim: 90% of the population of the Caribbean does not support same-sex marriage.
What was said: “… in one of the notices in the Caribbean … about 90% do not support this style of living.”
What’s missing: While it’s generally agreed some Caribbean nations aren’t as accepting of LGBTQ lifestyles as populations in other parts of the world, a more-nuanced examination of public attitudes paints a different picture.
Many of the Caribbean’s larger countries support same-sex marriage in excess of 10%. In Cuba, one survey found that 63.1% thought equal marriage should be approved. Jamaica’s support for same-sex unions is about 16%, while Honduras is 21.4%. However, support for same-sex unions remains low in places like Saint Lucía (10.7%), Dominica (10.4%) and Haiti (4.9%).
Claim: Mere criticism of homosexuality may result in being jailed in Sweden.
What was said: “In Sweden, people are put in jail for criticizing homosexuality, and it was upheld on appeal by the courts.”
What’s missing: Sexual orientation is covered in Sweden’s Criminal Code. A person who “threatens or expresses contempt for a population group by allusion to race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religious belief, sexual orientation or transgender identity or expression” could face a fine or up to two years in jail, depending on the severity of the incident. The act of criticising homosexuality would not result in jail time unless the defendant was found to have violated the Criminal Code.
Source: The Swedish Criminal Code, https://www.government.se/49f780/contentassets/7a2dcae0787e465e9a2431554b5eab03/the-swedish-criminal-code.pdf
Claim: Parents in Canada have no right to know what is being taught in public schools.
What was said: “In Canada, a judge ruled that parents have no rights to know what children are being taught in school.”
What’s missing: This is probably a reference to a 2016 Ontario Superior Court ruling against one parent who wanted to be notified before topics involving sex, marriage or family were to be discussed in the classroom. The ruling was upheld on appeal. Ontario’s high school curriculum is publicly available, so parents do know what is being taught in schools – even though they may not know exactly what is going to be taught day-to-day.