Opinion: 3.806 Million Square Miles Of Marriage

June 30, 2015

[Opinion column written by Shari-Lynn Pringle]

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.” [Justice Kennedy]

The historic ruling by the U.S Supreme Court will send ripples around the world because the United States has spoken and try as you might, you can’t ignore the noise. The esteemed judges have spoken eloquently and wisely on a matter that has consequences to thousands whose lives have been in limbo.

While persons opposed to same sex marriage may have very valid reasons for opposition, religious, morally or otherwise, the question everyone must ask is how does same sex marriage affect them personally and what right should they have to deny others the same legal rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples.

For every argument against there is a counter response that not only makes many of the arguments against totally invalid but also highlights the desperation of some to deny others the same opportunity to love, family and security. I’m hoping that Bermuda’s politicians and people will read the arguments made by the respective judges and glean something from each of them.

Our leaders must make a decision to first do right by those that call these 21 square miles home and then extend the decision to incorporate those that chose Bermuda as a holiday destination or place to conduct business. This must happen as a normal, streamlined process and not through backdoor legislation or loopholes that will be constantly challenged. Mr. and Mr. Smith should be at home here just as comfortably as Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Heterosexuals should not be the only persons afforded the opportunity [often with multiple do-overs] to experience the blissful state of marriage and all it entails.

The United States becomes the 21st country [3.806 million square miles by the way] to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, including territories. For the many Bermudians in committed relationships with American citizens, this decision also gives them a glimmer of hope and reason to celebrate as the only home they have to leave to have their marriage recognized is Bermuda.

There is no longer a need to move from one state that doesn’t recognize same sex marriage to another that does.

This decision was made so that there is marriage equality among all of its citizens and not just certain states. My heart is brimming over for so many friends that have been waiting for a positive decision in this case but my heart also sinks when I think of Bermuda possibly doing their usual ‘reinvention of the wheel’ dance which will deny these same couples rights on our shores.

Where one in the partnership calls home.

There can’t be enough thanks to the persons that undertook this challenge of the U.S. Constitution, to the numerous activists and allies that have gotten the word out and provided the necessary education as relates to same gender love and ultimately marriage.

There’s nothing more thrilling than working on a campaign that meets success over years of hard work, as evidenced in 2013 when, as an activist on the Two Words and a Comma campaign, we met success and saw “sexual orientation” included in the Human Rights Act 1981 as a ground under which it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and the provision of public goods and services – in the same way that it has been illegal to discriminate in this way on the grounds of race, religion, sex, marital status and so on for many years.

Quoting from a statement made by Two Words and a Comma in May this year when Tony Brannon presented the same sex petition to Minister Patricia Gordon Pamplin, “Equal marriage rights for all residents of Bermuda, no matter their sexual orientation, is therefore something that Two Words and a Comma wholeheartedly supports.”

The ability for a couple to have their relationship legally recognised by the state, whether they are in a same-sex relationship or an opposite-sex one, is to be welcomed as a positive development that will benefit not only the individuals themselves, but their families, the economy, and our society as a whole.

Along with equal marriage rights, we are mindful that there is also work to be done to extend the Human Rights Act 1981 to fully cover areas such as age-based discrimination in employment and mental disability, and we encourage and support each and every step furthering human rights so as to ensure we live in a fairer and more equitable society.”

There is still so much work to be done whether its 21 square miles or 3.806 million square miles. I don’t expect the world to change overnight with the decision in the United States but it gets conversations and action started in some countries and keeps the conversation and activism going in others.

Governments can’t legislate how people behave no matter what laws are put into place, what religion of love, acceptance and tolerance people profess to follow or if persons hearts are so cold and hard from some other personal experience that it spills over into every decision they make.

I just know that my American child, my American grandchildren and their children and beyond will hopefully grow up in a country where they can write their own fairytale and the frog they kiss can turn into whatever they want it to be and no one will bat an eye.

And hopefully by the time any of my offspring decide to do any same sex kissing and falling in the marriage-kind-of-love, Bermuda will have decided to do what’s right for all of her people as well and the Bermudian side of them can live happily ever after here with their partner of choice.

- Shari-Lynn Pringle is a member of Two Words and a Comma which successfully lobbied Government to add sexual orientation as a protected ground under the Human Rights Act of 1981. She is an LGBTQ and Human Rights Advocate and social media aficionado.

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Comments (20)

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  1. stunned... says:

    same-sex marriages and unions are a non-issue for me. just wish i were a divorce lawyer…***rubbing hands***

    • Shari-Lynn Pringle says:

      I agree @stunned… It’s not too late to capitalize on what should result in a bumper crop on both sides of the fence — when you consider those who have been in sham marriages!

      • stunned... says:

        i could also consider a career in wedding planning and designing-extraordinaire. as our ‘Sybil’ says: “Bring me drama!”

  2. Ameboa says:

    Aint nothing right about same sex marraige. You all used human rights as your platform , well you all can go out and make it legal for murderers, fornicators, adulterers, liars, thieves and whatever else sin I havent mentioned as well then. I tell you…. What is next from you out of normal people?

    • PBanks says:

      This is why there is separation of church and state.

      Murder and theft are already illegal. Those are crimes against people. It’s ludicrous to suggest that there should be a movement to do otherwise.

      And while adultery and fornication may be sins according to the Bible and other religious texts, you’re not going to be prosecuted in a court of law for it.

      As for lying, well maybe several of our politicians ought to be in court, but that’s another matter. That said, there are also laws regarding perjury, for example. Again though, not based on religion.

    • Shari-Lynn Pringle says:

      Don’t know what’s next @Ameboa. We take our lead from the lessons provided by the heterosexuals. BTW “murderers, fornicators, adulterers, liars and thieves and whatever else sin I havement mentioned as well then” unless homosexual actually ALREADY have the right to marriage! Surely you sit next to one or two in church!

    • Family Man says:

      How is your thinking any different from ISIS?

      You both want everybody else to live according to your interpretation of religion.

      • Anon says:

        The thing is there isn’t anything different between them, the funny part is they both fail to see how identical they are.

    • Zevon says:

      Are you called ‘ameboa’ because you share the same number of brain cells?

    • theothersidebermuda says:

      Fornication, adultery and lying are actually legal already so not sure of your point. You can’t legislate to stop people from lying, cheating or fornicating. If you want to beat the homosexual drum (and I’m not telling you shouldn’t) you also need to beat the fornication drum, the divorce drum, the extramarital affair drum and others.

    • Anon says:

      Aint nothing wrong with it either, aint nothing right with opposite sex marriage too, just saying.

  3. Sadly, gender-variant folk—be we (transgender, transsexual, cross-dressers, or intersex) covert or overt, UK Gender Recognition Act 2004 preferred gender certificated or not—can still be discriminated against with impunity on Bermuda and the UK’s other British Overseas Territories…

    Brenda Lana Smith R.af D.
    Founder of “Stand up for Gender-Variant People’s Rights on Bermuda…”

  4. Pastor Syl says:

    Great opinion piece, Shari Lynn. Eloquent as always. Been a pleasure working with you.

    • Shari-Lynn Pringle says:

      You’re welcome Ms. Sylvia. We are a great team with lots of work still to be done.

  5. Born Bermudian says:

    Midnight Ravers

  6. Stop and think says:

    I’ll tell you how same sex marriage affects me personally. We are condeming ourselves to self extinction. I have an aunt who is a lesbian and has a boy that she has been fostering since birth. The boy is about 14 now and many individuals within my family and even outside have noticed that he has taken on the same mentality as his foster mom and has begun to show homosexual tendencies. He has had a fair level of interaction between his godfathers, foster uncles and his actual father but the greatest infulence is found within the home. With that, its easy to see that the introduction of homosexuality within society has a major influence on the youth. We can see from statistics that birth rates have decreased compared to twenty, thirty years ago so imagine what it will be like in the next twenty to thirty years due to this idea that we don’t need to repopulate. In no way will a society prosper if there is no one to carry it out. So in short, the influence that this will have on society is what concerns me the most. Even the article states the ripple affect that the U.S will have on other countries since this is now legal. It hasn’t even been a week and some people in Bermuda are already hype for this to be accepted. Talk about influence hey?

    • Shari-Lynn Pringle says:

      Did you really Stop and Think @stopandthink before you typed what you did. Really? Seriously? Homosexual tendencies? You do realize that many, many homosexuals are birthed by heterosexuals right? The introduction of homosexuality within society has a major influence on youth. Ahhhh… sexual orientation is not like cable tv you know. Silly Bermudians expecting marriage equality just because our closest neighbour and 20 other countries saw fit to do it and not because its the right thing to do. We’re so gullible. Oh — and back to that birth rate, you did say foster child i.e. a heterosexual that couldn’t or wouldn’t raise him. You are really trying to blame declining birth rates on homosexuals? You do know that it doesn’t take love or marriage to have a child right? Stop and think…

    • PBanks says:

      What kind of mentality is this that the foster parent is showing?

      Heck, I’d be delighted that someone had the mentality to take up fostering a child that could otherwise fall through the cracks and become a ‘statistic’.

    • Anon says:

      Wait how is this a bad thing though? Birth rates decreasing is a GOOD thing. And also what do you mean homosexual tendencies? Is he trying to kiss boys or have sex with boys? No, then he doesn’t have homosexual tendencies, end of story. And stop acting like homosexuality is a terrible thing, in actuality it might save the human race from extinction and the biggest threat to humans currently is overpopulation.

  7. Charlly X says:

    Well well well !! The ten COMMANDMENTS are the basic laws that should be upheld by humans if you believe in the most high Jehovah’s word ! He tells us to love one another unconditionally and condemned the acts and thoughts of wickedness . He offers his forgiveness to all who repent for their sins accordingly . Certain acts are an abomination if you acknowledge this or not . We all will feel the wrath of Gods hand for what we’ve decided to do here on earth !!