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Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to Referendum Announcement

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda condemns the Bermuda Government’s move to have a referendum on marriage equality. We agree with the assessment of the Centre for Justice that a referendum is an inappropriate method for making human rights decisions that impact a small minority of Bermuda’s population.

The proposed Matrimonial Causes Amendment Act 2016 would effectively legislate discrimination, as pointed out by the Human Rights Commission. The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda stands by the HRC’s analysis and underscores that inequality cannot be enshrined in Human Rights Law. It appears that the OBA government is attempting to fix this poor legislation with another cowardly route away from equity for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) people.

If the government maintains that marriage is between a man and a woman, how are they also suggesting that civil unions are a viable comparison for same-gender-loving couples? During the information session on February 15, Minister Pamplin-Gordon said in reference to taking the question to the people of Bermuda: “Many human rights have had to be fought for by minorities [...] What we don’t want to do is to put ourselves as a country in the situation in which a majority of people say that we are willing to trample on the rights of a minority [...] That would specifically be in violation of the preamble that we have to our human rights act [...]: ‘Recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family[...]‘” We are saddened to find that her words were merely lip-service to equity.

To quote the former Premier Cannonier when he declared that the referendum on gaming would be cancelled, “This matter is too important for political games.” A referendum on marriage equality seems like a political move by a party afraid to show leadership on a human rights issue. In December 2013, the OBA government broke its campaign promise for a referendum on gaming. Since then, there have also been calls for referendums on immigration reform, education, and cannabis reform. It is hypocritical that the government decide to play political games with the legal rights of a minority of oppressed individuals.

The Finance Minister has only just shared the debt Bermuda is faced with during the recent Budget. Referendums cost approximately $350,000. This issue should not be decided by such a costly means.

Similarly, with many LGBTQ Bermudians forced to leave home because of the very discrimination we seek to solve, it is likely that a referendum will not have an accurate reflection of those that will be impacted by the decision. We hope that if the Government proceeds with this disappointing referendum, that they hold it during the summer holidays, which would allow a chance for some students who are typically abroad to have a say in this matter. If it does turn out that a majority of Bermudians do support marriage equality, we would expect Government to remove its objectionable policy regarding civil unions and to legislate marriage equality fully.

Prolonging this decision for a referendum also ushers in more months of campaigning full of rampant homophobia and transphobia that will cause considerable mental anguish and heightened discomfort for the LGBTQ community. Particularly, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda would like to underscore how damaging a continuation of hateful rhetoric will be on LGBTQ youth that are simply trying to exist in a country that forcefully tells them they are somehow abnormal. We affirm the existence of our young LGBTQ Bermudians and encourage them to remain hopeful about the future: it gets better.

We urge the OBA to reconsider this hasty course of action.

As always, the Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda remains committed to providing safer spaces for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community. It is made up of a diverse group of young Bermudians that are involved in many areas of other social justice advocacy and community work. There are no official spokespeople and all statements are written collaboratively.

Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda’s Response to “Preserve Marriage Bermuda”

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda supports the rights of all people in Bermuda to have their consensual, loving relationships between two individuals recognized and protected – regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Bermuda courts have already supported this position, ruling that refusing to recognize same-sex partnerships amounts to discrimination – a stance which we wholeheartedly stand by.

A referendum on this issue disregards the struggle of minority groups in human rights issues. Why should an unaffected majority decide the extent to which an oppressed minority can access their rights? Fundamental rights and freedoms are in place to protect minorities against the shifting passions of the majority. Referenda pose a danger to the protections afforded to minority groups through legislative and judicial means. Preserve Marriage‘s rhetoric shows a need for a better understanding on how to be accepting of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s eloquent writing from the US Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges shows how important allowing same-sex marriage is to the community at large:

“As all parties agree, many same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted. … Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children [...] suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Preserve Marriage’s media campaign against same-sex marriage is offensive and riddled with skewed statistics. For the many non-heterosexual young people and adults in Bermuda, Preserve Marriage’s homophobia is further entrenching the daily exclusion and alienation already faced. It is unfortunate that with the multiple serious issues Bermuda is currently facing, a group of individuals would use such a significant amount of resources to advocate to prevent a recognized segment of the population from being able to benefit from rights and freedoms afforded to the majority.

The Rainbow Alliance will continue to support the rights of LGBTQ+ persons in Bermuda to have safe spaces available and to educate the community on LGBTQ+ issues.

“The conversation on [the legal right for marriage equality] has NOTHING to do with my Christian beliefs.”

“The conversation on whether or not men should have the legal right to marry men or whether women should have the legal right to marry women has NOTHING to do with my Christian beliefs.”

We received this heartfelt letter of support from Justin D Brangman, a Bermudian who attended the Ministry of Community, Culture & Sports’ Information Session on Same Sex Marriage on Monday September 28. Thank you Justin.

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Ministry: Info Sessions On Same Sex Marriage

The Ministry of Community, Culture and Sports has announced that public information sessions regarding same sex marriage will be held on Monday, 28 September and Thursday, 1 October.

“The public information sessions follow as a response to the petition that was presented to Government in May 2015,” the Ministry said.

“These sessions will focus on experiences in other jurisdictions and the current local situation as well as provide an opportunity for questions and answers.”

Video of the petition being presented in May 2015:

Community, Culture and Sports Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said, “When I received the petition from Mr. Tony Brannon and supporters, I assured them that Government would take into consideration the proposed request allowing same sex marriage in Bermuda.

“The Department of Human Affairs has presented to Cabinet research regarding what other countries have enacted in legislation and what steps can be taken. At the public information sessions we plan on sharing what we’ve learned as well as give our citizens an opportunity to respond.”

Minister Gordon-Pamplin added, “We want to encourage community engagement and dialogue around the subject. It is important after reviewing the research about what other countries have done that we, in Bermuda, have frank and honest dialogue about same sex marriage.”

The information sessions will be held on Monday, 28 September at the Berkeley Institute and Thursday, 1 October at Bermuda College North Hall. The sessions begin at 6 p.m.

In response, Tony Brannon — who started the petition — said, “It’s a start. Everyday we don’t make this happen is a day lost for human rights and tourism.”

Source: Bernews

Fantasy Pride Summer Night Cruise | July 10

DJ Lady Blazian and DJ Quiet Storm present the party we’ve all been waiting for… FANTASY PRIDE, a summer night cruise aboard the MV Destiny on Friday, July 10 from 11PM-3AM. Tickets are $50, which includes a complimentary rum swizzle and hors d’oeuvres. Cash bar. Bathing suits are optional (personally, we plan to get wet)!

Rumba°r Rainbow Wednesdays – Valentine’s Edition

It’s the Wednesday before Valentine’s Day… Come out, meet and greet, LOVE who you are, and BE YOURSELF! ♥

Rumba°r Lounge & Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda present Rumba°r Rainbow Wednesdays: a fun, LGBTQ-friendly, wider community welcoming social event (bring your friends)!

DJ Lady Blazian will be back again providing you with groovy house, pop, r&b and reggae beats. Rumba°r will supply the drinks and eats, and Rainbow Alliance will have some very special WORLDPRIDE giveaways! See you at Victoria Grill/Rumba°r Lounge, February 11 2015, from 6-10 PM.

Bus driver receives tourism award

A bus driver has been hailed “a tourism ambassador” for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Mark Anderson, better known to many as “Queen of Bermuda” Sybil Barrington, was recently awarded the Visitor Industry Partnership’s Sunshine Award for his tireless work to showcase Bermuda and make visitors feel welcome.