Centre For Justice On Marriage & Referendum

February 18, 2016

“If the government is genuinely concerned about ‘doing the right thing’ and ensuring Bermuda meets international legal standards, it will not hold a referendum on the issue of marital equality or civil unions,” the Centre for Justice said today.

This statement follows after the Preserve Marriage group said that “on such a controversial issue” the Bermuda Government “should call a referendum in order to assess and reflect the prevailing community interest in Bermuda and determine what, if any, legislation should be passed.”

A Centre spokesperson said, “Centre for Justice acknowledges that while there are circumstances in which referenda can be utilized to enhance civic engagement and public participation in the democratic process, they are not appropriate for deciding questions that directly impact the fundamental human rights.

“This is particularly so where the existence of those rights has already been established by local and international law.

“The inherent dignity of all people in Bermuda is recognized not only by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitution of Bermuda.

“No step should be taken to deprive LGBT people from enjoying the right to life, the right to secure protection of the law, the right to protection of one’s home and family life, or the right freedom of thought, religion and belief.

“We join with the High Commission of the United Nations in observing that:

All people, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protections provided for by international human rights law, including in respect of rights to life, security of person and privacy, the right to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

“The position of Centre for Justice on this issue accords with the guidance provided by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, in its Report on Referendums in the United Kingdom.

“While we understand there are constitutional distinctions between Bermuda and the United Kingdom, we also recognize our constitutional traditions have sufficient in common to make the Committee’s observations apt for Bermuda.

“Referenda ought only to be used for deciding fundamental constitutional issues which raise questions of principle about part of the constitution.

“Questions about marital equality or even civil unions do not rise to the level of being constitutional questions, which would include issues affecting whether the United Kingdom should abolish the monarchy, or independence for Bermuda, or reform of the legislature, or changing the electoral system from first-past-the-post to one of proportional representation.

“Centre for Justice does not believe referenda should be used by the Government to skirt issues of controversy which affect a minority even if it is politically expedient for the Government to do so.

“Such action creates a dangerous precedent for future governments to abdicate their decision-making role when difficult issues arise. Giving in to popular sentiment is dangerous and irresponsible. The role of Government, in a democratic society, is to protect the welfare of the minority.

“We cannot help but note that the Government has on one hand sought to push ahead with immigration reform [which engages issues of fundamental rights and Bermuda’s international legal obligations] without engaging in effective consultation, at the same time that members of the Government have freely advocated for marital equality, or the question of the acceptability of civil unions, [which also engage issues of fundamental rights and Bermuda’s international legal obligations] to be made the subject of a popular vote. This inconsistency is blatant, and ought to be explained.

“If the government is genuinely concerned about ‘doing the right thing’ and ensuring Bermuda meets international legal standards, it will not hold a referendum on the issue of marital equality or civil unions.”

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Comments (71)

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  1. Lois Frederick says:

    Agreed.

    • Daylilly says:

      ALL people or just SSM people. This issue affects ALL of Bermuda, so All of Bermuda should have a vote. This vote is not for or against gay people it’s to determine if Bermuda wants to accept the complete cultural shifts that have been seen everywhere this agenda has succeeded. Shifts in EVERY aspect of society.

      The European Court of Human Rights agrees and has said in 2010 & reiterated in 2015.

      “…as matters stand, the question whether or not to allow same- sex marriage is left to regulation by the national law of the Contracting State. In that connection, the Court observes that marriage has deep-rooted social and cultural connotations which may differ largely from one society to another. The Court reiterates that it must not rush to substitute its own judgment in place of that of the national authorities, who are best placed to assess and respond to the needs of society.”

      If the European Court of Human Rights respects that Bermuda is a self-governing democracy why won’t our own government.

      • brain drain says:

        Y’all cherry pick like you’re making pies for the whole of Bermuda!

        Always out of context to suit your purposes.

        • Daylilly says:

          Brain drain
          That was a direct quote, read the cases, they are online. If the European Court of Human a Rights (ECHR) meant for everyone to blanketly enact legislation, then how come each territory/country gets to choose how to implement its rulings.

          Do we have a democracy or not? Why have a voting public? We don’t summarily enact all European Laws in Bermuda because as the ECHR itself has said, Contracting States have the right to make laws in step with its culture.

          In Bermuda, marriage was the business of the church for over 250 years, the Government didn’t begin to keep records until @ 1866.

          • HW says:

            What Bermuda needs to know is that when this quote was read to the AG at the first civil union discussion last Thursday night, he said that quote was from 2010 and indicated the 2015 ruling superseded it. What he failed to mention was that in the 2015 Oliari case, the court REITERATED that same quote. Mr. moniz has to have known this and yet attempted to justify his case for civil unions on the back of this deception. It is, yet again, clear that this government has a hidden agenda and will do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

            This is even more reason that a referendum is the way to go. Determine what the prevailing community interest and weigh it against that which is being requested, before fitting this law into our context.

            Do people really trust this government to do what’s best for us when they continue to not only disregard the people as a whole, but to DECEIVE the people of Bermuda?

          • brain drain says:

            Do you know what out of context means? It means you take part of something out of the whole and it so happens that part makes it looks like they agree with you.

            The ECHR does not agree with you. They quite clearly told Italy to provide a way for same sex couples to enjoy family life.

            They did not tell Italy to go and have a referendum. Stop spreading lies.

            • HW says:

              Unlike our government, I have not lied or mislead. You should read the full case as it’s clear you’ve misunderstood and simply accepted what the government has fed you.

              You’re missing the key bit where the EUCHR said that the Italian government failed to measure the prevailing community interest to determine the margin of appreciation. No country is forced to implement European convention laws exactly as they are. the EUCHR has stated that contracting states are free to gauge to what degree they should implement laws of the European convention- they can be molded and fitted into that country’s context and culture- this is the margin of appreciation.

              However you can’t know what that is unless you measure it. How can this be done? A variety of ways- maybe polls, public info sessions, or a referendum. Given how quickly this has all developed and how the government has clearly mislead people, and how they clearly were proposing legislation before they even held the ‘information sessions’, it seems obvious the forums are not sufficient.

              The only logical way to measure the prevailing community interest- WHICH the European convention has said you should measure!!!!- Is by a referendum.

              • brain drain says:

                As ER says, “I fail to see how one can take seriously the demands of a group that publishes either recklessly or deliberately misleading bulletins.”

                Hear hear sir.

                PM is happy to sit back and release lies to the community, every opportunity should be used to debunk these hack arguments.

                • HW says:

                  Your failure to understand the case and what the EU said, and what PM is now saying does not constitute ‘lies’. It’s just that- a failure to understand on your part. Please read more closely.

      • J says:

        Doesn’t affect me.

  2. rich says:

    How can government engage in consultation when public meetings are shouted down for that purpose?

    • Daylilly says:

      Rich
      Can’t use that argument on this issue. The noisiest and most disruptive people at the meetings for civil unions and SSM were on the SSM side. They put up signs behind people’s head and hissed at people while they were exercising their right to freedom of opinion, belief, religion, etc.

      The government hasn’t consulted, it made a plan and left the citizens out of the decision making process. This is far too much and far too soon.

      • Lois Frederick says:

        No, it’s pretty balanced really. Everyone had a chance to make submissions, as I did. I even got a reply.

      • brain drain says:

        Oh you mean like this so called Pastor who kept showing thumbs down when the panel talked about same-sex marriage …..

        We know you’re part of the PM troll squad but stop telling lies.

  3. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Ok …let’s see if I’m reading it correctly…you don’t want a referendum because you know you would lose to the majority…so you want the OBA (Michael Trevor Craig n Bob etc.)to give the stamp of approval or be ostresized and put on the guilty train…This is not a human rights issue…It has political agenda…more to be uncovered as time progresses.

    • brain drain says:

      i doubt you’d know what a human rights issue was if it stood next to johnny barnes waving at you.

      You don’t like gays, you don’t want to give them rights, we all understand it. Just say that rather that try to pack it into a nice little play box.

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        Don’t come with your personal opinion because it’s just brain drainage…If it is not as I stated then what is the problem with a referendum…let the people have their say…you have the ability to gain access to all the “human rights” you seek through a civil union but you will not rest until you desecrate the word marriage…It is childish and should be met by the hammer of Thor!.

        The very thing that you are fighting for “human rights”…you are denying those rights to those that oppose your warped way of thinking…you better put a plug in it before you drain your entire brain…but apparently it may be too late.

        • brain drain says:

          The only thing draining my brain is having to listen to you.

          Human rights do not include oppressing others so ‘fraid you lose on that one.

      • So much for Democracy.

  4. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    Preserve Marriage has literally no legal argument to support their position on depriving rights from these law abiding individual/couples/families. Their entire stance seems to be to support a religious view, they just don’t want to try using that religious view as they know it holds even less water in a democracy. Doesn’t matter how many right wing religious conservative societal ‘experts’ they bring in to pass off debunk studies and opiniated arguments, the facts remain that they are on the wrong side of history, irregardless of whether it is by majority consensus or not. History after all has shown that the majority isn’t alway on the right about human rights.

    http://journalistsresource.org/studies/society/gender-society/same-sex-marriage-children-well-being-research-roundup

    https://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/MarriageandFamily.pdf

    The final consensus among the scientific community is that the same factors that allow for raising children in successful environments are as present in same sex families as they are in different sex families.

    • Daylilly says:

      History has already traveled down this path. It doesn’t work. No matter how many nice, emotive words are used, “love, equality, etc.”. Most people understand that “successful” children can be raised in a myriad of environments and social dynamics. What Preserve Marriage is saying is that what you enshrine into law, and promote through legislation should be the ideal environment.

      Many “successful” children of loving same sex couples say all the love and success in the world won’t give them the mother and father they were robbed of. It’s hypocrisy to be so concerned with adult human rights & not sincerely look at the obvious violation of children’s rights this agenda is demanding.

      In addition to all of the numerous compilations of historical data, there are many children of same gender relationships that have spoken out against SSM, i.e. Heather Barwick’s article in the Federalist and Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez who wrote:

      “We all have a right to be born free, not bought, sold or manufactured.
      Nobody, gay or otherwise, has a right to deprive us of those rights. Nobody has a “right” to us. To believe that people can have a “right” to another person is to believe in slavery.
      When children’s rights are violated , human rights are violated, in perpetuity, because even as adults, human beings have been violated if they must contend with memories of being bought or sold for adult whims, uprooted from their heritage, denied the love of both sexes (and therefore all of what makes humanity human), or denied a legacy. The crime against humanity that occurs when an adult violates one of those basic children’s rights is a lasting intergenerational crime. It is a violence against the family tree to which another human being is entitled by the eternal life cycle that unites all of us.”

      End the Witch Hunt: In Defense of Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        And where are children’s human right being violated, in my searching have found several testimonials of children of same gender families who indeed speak against same gender marriage, but I have found a multitude more that speak for it. Dr. Lopez is hardly a strong example for children of/against, as he was raised in a same sex family and gone on to be a successful tenured professor. What has happened is that he has jumped the fence, so to speak, and gone full conservative (possible his mothers were just bad parents)… is this reason to denounce same gender marriage, that being the case, different gender marriage should suffer the same criticism and condemnation and be equally banned.
        Ultimately what you are saying is that the only legislatively legal marriage should be your ideologically ideal one…

        • Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

          Exactly, they keep bringing up highly successful people who were products of a same-sex home, as their example of someone who is against SSM, but never acknowledge that the person is successful thanks to their upbringing. It’s hilarious…

      • brain drain says:

        Here we go with the scaremongering tactics. Most children raised by same sex couples grow up in equal or better environments than those in opposite sex households.

        Where are you when children are being abused in their mom/dad home? Where are you when children are being given up for adoption by their mom/dad home?

        Stop running a campaign of hate and bigotry and using children as your scapegoat.

  5. Center for Justice @ The O.B.A, along with the International legal standards should not dictate to us our destiny om such a important issue, just because other countries are falling in line with what is deemed to be the acceptable way of living in many other jurisdictions,does not mean we have to do the same.

    Dare to be different and stop all the B.S, and be truthful about the entire agenda and why this issue is being pushed so hard, and forced down our throats, along with other issues that the O.B.A is presently trying to push down our throats.

    I pray that the majority will stand and take this to the next level, enough is enough, and shutting down the meeting with minister Fahy was only the beginning and it will only intensify greatly if the government persist. We are not going anywhere and we are not backing down, on any of the major issues that we are faced with in this country.

    Bermudians may have been labelled as passive, but even in our passivity we can only be push so far before we fight back.

    • Truth says:

      So you are in favor of discrimination against a minority, keeping a portion of the community as second class citizen? Think on that as you sit in your pew this weekend praying to your God.

      • Daylilly says:

        Being a minority, doesn’t mean being marginalized or disenfranchised. Rich people are a minority. People on the comment threads were bragging about a recently married gay couple that could afford to buy a home in Bermuda outright. That doesn’t sound marginalized or disenfranchised.

        There are many different minorities, but only a few are fortunate enough to say they will pick up and leave Bermuda and take their money & prestige with them, if they dont get their way.

        That’s different from the minorities that were hung from trees as common as tieing a dog to a leash, or the Christian missionaries who were massacred & martyred because they wouldn’t deny Christ.

        • planeasday says:

          They GAY AGENDA act like so much wrong is being done them – Gays get it through your head YOU HAVE NO NATURAL RIGHTS TO MARRY. You are trying to convince us it is a RIGHT. Marriage bestowed upon you is at best a PRIVILEGE.

          Your way of life is an aberration to nature and if it were not for the perverse nature of modern society (no doubt infiltrated from within by sympathizers to your cause) whether by artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, or adoption agencies willing to deprive the RIGHTS OF CHILDREN to a MOTHER and FATHER – you would be literally committing genetic suicide.

          What in your life will be different the day after you marry?

          Deep down you know the wrong behind what you do – that is what this is about really – trying to force everyone else into acceptance of your wrongs rather than admitting to them – that way you can feel some ease from that pricking/uneasy sensation your lifestyle has on your conscience.

    • hmmm says:

      Fight back against what…against ourselves?????

      Don’t be so naïve

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      You realize that was the exact same view for maintaining institutions like slavery, segregation, civil right inequities, voting rights inequities, anti-interracial policies… look how every other oppressor of civil liberties and rights are now viewed

    • Lala says:

      Duane, you should turn on the TV and cruise to showtime… A fantastic movie which ends with some of the most homophobic (Welsh Miners) men ever, marching hand in hand in the British Gay Pride parade.

      You may learn something about the rights of others!!!!

    • Legalgal says:

      So what if the majority wanted to discriminate on the basis of race? Would that be ok?

      • Daylilly says:

        Legal gal. Everyone already does discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, orientation, appearance, intellect, status, etc. the human eye, ear and mind has survived by discriminating.

        We already interact based on our senses, which do discriminate.

        What we shouldn’t do is mistreat each other, we don’t have to pretend that every person and every relationship is the same.

        Marriage has a distinct function. You can not consummate a same sex union. The two do not become one. The relationships are not the same in any way. One is sterile the other is not. An apple is not an orange.

        • brain drain says:

          Doesn’t change the fact that they should both be accepted.

          • Daylilly says:

            Accepting people. We all agree on that. Re-defining marriage not so much.

            • brain drain says:

              Wow you’re good at twisting words. Must come from all the time you spend trolling!

        • Zevon says:

          Not legally. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          Yes, people do discriminate, however the law cannot… that is the function of the law, it has to be applied equally, otherwise it fails its function. Your entire rejection of same sex marriage is that you view it as different, you view it as something else, it is your view that they are a negeti e and your rational that anyway you can. You base your entire statement above on your limited view of the physical function of marriage, and deny or negate the emotional, spiritual and legal purpose. You’ve previously cited fellow conservative authors who deliberately pick and choose their sources to support their views, ignoring any other findings that would balance or contradict them.
          We get it, you don’t want same sex marriage, fine, don’t have one, but as far as same gender couples being able to connect on physical, emotional, spiritual and legal purposes and provide stable and supportive family environments, it is already well documented that there is no real difference between them and different gender marriages. So there is no real basis to say that they shouldn’t be given the same rights as everybody else.

    • cow polly says:

      Wow! Aren’t you puffing your chest out. You’re a bigot. Enough said

    • brain drain says:

      Strange opinion. Did you feel this way about racial desegregation too?

      • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

        NOT the same thing.

      • planeasday says:

        Another one trying to anchor this agenda TO A REAL HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE…

        • brain drain says:

          This isn’t a real human rights issue because it’s inconvenient to you?

          Sorry you have been inconvenienced!

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          Do you not see this as a human rights issue, because you don’t see them as human?

  6. We the People (1st!!) says:

    The only issue I cannot argue on at this point is, Civial Unions, simply because the ultimate goal is Same-Sex marriage for it’s supporters .

    Let’s just be clear. There is no such thing as Same-Sex marriage equality. It is not and cannot be equal to male-female union/marriage.

    The HIGHEST court in the EU, the Europen Court of Human Rights said this.

    “Human rights law does not require countries to “grant access to marriage to same-sex couples,”

    The European court was unequivocal. It not only said that European human rights law does not contemplate same-sex marriage, it said that civil unions are good enough for same-sex couples. The court confirmed that the protection of the traditional institution of marriage is a VALID STATE INTEREST —implicitly endorsing the view that relations between persons of the same sex are not identical to marriage between a man and a woman, and may be treated differently in law.

    This is from a secular and impartial Legal court system.

    This is why the government just this week referenced the ECHR in their decision to allow Civial Unions.

    If Same-Sex marriage is the right thing to do, then let the people decide, what the right thing is.

    Out of 21 countries that have legalized Same-Sex only ONE has done so by popular vote. So that ONE country should be an example that the people can determine what is right for them.So why can’t you put trust in the people of this country/island to ‘do the right thing’ and vote on it to determine what is right for us.

    • planeasday says:

      Well Said Sir/Madam. Yet they will still find a way to bend logic and reason…

    • brain drain says:

      If popular vote was how countries governed then you’d see more – it’s NOT how countries govern. They govern via ELECTED OFFICIALS. If you want to operate a popular vote system then abolish parliament.

      Don’t pick and choose when you want to go to popular vote because your elected official stands up for the right thing and you want your bigoted views imposed on everyone.

      Same-sex marriage is equal marriage.

  7. Zevon says:

    At last. A voice of reason.

  8. Bermuda First says:

    This is simple, a few should never decide for the majority. The European Convention has clearly stated that a government should first test the will of its people before charging forward with any legislation and as such, a referendum is clearly best. Only when the voices of the public have been heard can the Government fairly and sensibly decide how to incorporate the European Convention law in Bermuda. We are under no obligation to institute European law exactly as it exists, but instead have a duty to make sure legislation reflects the desires of Bermudians.

    • We the People (1st!!) says:

      I agree.

      • Lois Frederick says:

        ..and I disagree.

        • planeasday says:

          Ahhh…but your opinion is of no more weight/value than that of any other…that is why you will woe the day your cause is decided on by all “stakeholders” isn’t it?

    • brain drain says:

      Our courts have already decided the matter based on our own local laws.

  9. Lala says:

    180 years ago this month Bermuda fought for a ship full of slaves bound for the “new world”… Did we have to NO, was it the right thing to do? Absolutely!!! Now we have another group that are being discriminated against…… We need to remember that discrimination was wrong then and wrong now…

    • sage says:

      Whine, whine…You think racial discrimination ended 180 years ago? Apparently once gays are allowed to marry all human rights struggles will be over, get over yourselves. And go get married, no one will arrest, convict or imprison you for it.

    • planeasday says:

      GIVE IT A BREAK WITH THE ATTEMPTED SLAVERY CORRELATIONS ALREADY! – Gay people are slave to nothing other than their un-quenching desire to shove their lifestyle down everyone else’s throat…

      • brain drain says:

        …and here it is, the truth behind Preserve Marriage finally comes out!

        Bigots and hate speech!

    • Keeping pace says:

      Please explain how those seeking SSM are being discriminated against. Most all of the negative speech is coming from SSM proponents. Having a different view is and will never be discrimination.

      • brain drain says:

        errr ….. a “view” telling government to stop a group of people having rights is no “view” at all good sir.

  10. Give it a Rest says:

    “Giving in to popular sentiment is dangerous and irresponsible.” – Welcome to Democracy!

    • planeasday says:

      So rather – “Lets sneak in our agenda through the back door”

      Pun Intended…

      • brain drain says:

        Here it is …. obsession with gay sex because that’s all that defines a same-sex couples.

        This is the real face of preserve marriage!

  11. Curious says:

    Duane Santucci. You sound like a member of ISIS. I am not signing my name but you will know me one day. I will be in front of all the rest who have no fear of you. Standing stronger and wiser.

  12. Zevon says:

    Until comparatively recently polls in the USA indicated a referendum there would have voted against inter racial marriage. An example of how a referendum can lead to an immoral outcome.

    • Keeping pace says:

      Would have. It did not take place. So what is the relevance?

  13. Eugenie says:

    There can be no question on the establishment of legal recognition for Same sex unions. However, the Center for Justice does not have supremacy over the European Court of Human Rights. As per my previous posts on this topic, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has consistently struck down same sex challenges to the marriage laws of any country that is subject to the rulings of the ECHR . The ECHR which recognizes the uniqueness of a union between a man and a woman has consistently ruled in favor of retaining the traditional definition of marriage between a man and woman thereby upholding the primacy of traditional marriage (religious freedoms) over and gay rights when civilian laws can suffice to address the human rights issues with respect to same sex unions. Therefore while countries are required to establish legislative frameworks to recognize and to provide legal benefits to persons in same sex unions , according to the ECHR this framework does not have to be marriage.

    However, Pro Marriage advocates have to also understand that rights to same sex unions are enforced by the ECHR on its member countries – even though these unions do not have to be marriages. Countries that do not comply incur hefty fines and other sanctions.

    Based on the Bermuda Government’s presentation on civil unions, the proposed legislation appears to have covered its bases, even though it does not leave every one in happy space – on either side of the debate:

    -Primacy of the Country’s Marriage laws confirmed in accordance to ECHR
    -Legal framework for same sex unions established in accordance to ECHR (via CUs)
    -SSMs that take place outside of Bermuda will not be recognized as such and willhave to be registered as CU’s
    -CUs to have the same legal benefits extended to them as marriages and
    -The requirements for entering into and dissolving CU’s to be the same as marriage unions.

    The question for referendum however, could be valid if their is a perceived minority lobby for SSM as opposed to Civil Union and strong public opposition to the changes in the marriage laws …

  14. clearasmud says:

    While I agree with the center’s view on referenda I don’t agree with the center’s interpretation on how it relates to marriage equality. The ECHR has already said it is not a human rights issue which would mean that a referendum would not be inappropriate. I would be interested to hear their views on Democracy as it relates to the many deciding for the few.