MP Richards: “Referendum Is The Way Forward”

February 12, 2016

“It is my personal belief that a referendum is the way forward,” said OBA MP Sylvan Richards when asked about the Order Papers for today’s [Feb 12] sitting of the House of Assembly, which said Mr Richards will bring a Private Members Bill entitled “Same-Sex Marriage Referendum Act 2016″.

In describing a Private Members Bill, the official Bermuda Parliament website says, “Public Bills are invariably tabled in the House by the Government Minister responsible for the Ministry to which the Bill relates.

“There is also provision in the Rules of the House of Assembly which permits the Opposition Party and individual members to table Legislation.

“In the latter case, the Legislation would be classified as a Private Member’s Bill and the fate of the initiative is usually determined by a ‘conscience vote’ – i.e. a vote which is not tied to party lines.”

Sylvan Richards’ Comments

Speaking at the House today, Mr Richards told Bernews, “The Bill that was on the Order Paper for today was to hold a referendum on same sex marriage, and after consultation with my Parliamentary colleagues, I decided to not lay the Bill today. We are going to continue to explore the best way forward.”

“It is my personal belief that a referendum is the way forward; however, we are going to continue to discuss the issue in our caucus and the Premier has committed to continue the dialogue because this is an issue of national importance,” added Mr Richards.

“So in order to keep peace in the party, and to figure out the best way forward, we are going to continue to dialogue about this issue.”

Asked about the information session last night on civil unions, Mr Richards said, “My personal belief is I do not support civil unions.

“However, once again, we’re going to keep the dialogue going inside the One Bermuda Alliance because this is an issue of national importance, and it is my personal belief that Bermudians should have the right to vote on the way forward in this particular matter.”

Premier Michael Dunkley’s Comments

Also speaking on the matter was Premier Michael Dunkley, who said, “The Government made our approach to this situation very clear: that we would ask people for information. We originally held some town halls to listen to people, to compile information.

“Last night, the Minister and the Attorney General disseminated some of that information which we had collected to the people in attendance. I think it’s important to state at this time that this issue is perhaps that most emotive and potentially divisive issue that any Government or elected leaders can deal with.

“Let me make it very clear,that I think I speak for all of my colleagues – and I would hope I speak for all the people of Bermuda as Premier – that we all support human rights, but at the same time, we need to be clear on what is important to protect as we move forward.”

“My approach to leadership has been one where I am happy to hear all the views of people as we determine and decide the best way forward. And in this issue, it’s no different,” said the Premier.

“Our caucus has had some very good and robust debates on how we will handle this going forward and those debates continue.

“Our honourable colleague MP Richards, the Junior Minister who I have the utmost respect for and appreciate his advice because he’s a straight talker, I certainly support the actions that he takes, because this type of issue at some times, they have to be…to follow your conscience but always keep that door open for dialogue.

“I believe that with that dialogue, and as the Premier and leader of the Governing party, I would do everything I can to bring the people together to find the best result as we go forward.

“I support the institution of marriage, as somebody who has been married for 35 years and have two wonderful young ladies as children, but I also support the rights of people and hence our tough decision.

“I also find it interesting that this is probably one of the best times for members to be in the Opposition, because they don’t have to make any decisions, but I can assure you that this Government will find the best way forward,” concluded Premier Dunkley.

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Comments (53)

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  1. Raymond Ray says:

    Premier Michael Dunkley please heed to the people and your “Party” :-(
    “It is my personal belief that a referendum is the way forward; however, we are going to continue to discuss the issue in our caucus and the Premier has committed to continue the dialogue because this is an issue of national importance,” added Mr. Richards.
    “So in order to keep peace in the party, and to figure out the best way forward, we are going to continue to dialogue about this issue.”

    • Onion juice says:

      I thought we live in a Democracy and a Referendom is synonymous to the meaning of Democracy.
      Ya all Full of S!@# !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Individuals’ human rights must be protected, even in the face of the majority, this is why it should never be left to a referendum. The whole point of the Human Rights Act was to ensure that people rights could never be impeded again, even by the majority, as it had been over half a century ago. If we try put any type of supremacy over it, then we invalidate it on a whole and it will only serve to demonstrate we will have learned nothing from the mistakes of the past. The truth of it is that marriage equality will only impact those that will finally get it. For decades now there have been same sex couples raising families, successfully and unsuccessfully, just like hetrosexual couples.

        • planeasday says:

          You are confused – you have no Right as a gay couple to be married – it is a privilege – just as you have no right to pick a shell up off of the beach but it can be done because there is no duty expected of you not to pick it up…

          If i had more time I would break it down for you…

          • Lois Frederick says:

            Now, try explaining that to the Chief Justice after February 29th. Your case will not hold water.

            • planeasday says:

              If he wasn’t already on a leash I would indeed explain but the outcome of this war on nature has determined since the OBA’s inception – most likely before if you can see past the puppets that is…

          • Build a Better Bermuda says:

            Actually, marriage under the law bestows certain rights, rights that come when as a couple you commit yourself to each other under the law. Currently the laws specifically discriminate against couples of same sex from being able to marry and obtain these rights. The Human Rights Act was specifically put into law to prevent any one group or individual from ever being able to prevent another group or individual from having access to the same rights and services as any other, irregardless of the majority will. Every argument that is being used to currently deny the same sex community the right to marry, are the same discriminatory arguments that were used over half a century ago, and the very reason the Human Rights Act was enacted. But please, try to break it down about why equality here isn’t valid.

    • Egalitarian says:

      You can’t decide a human rights issue by popular vote!

      It would be utterly unfair. Our society believes that everybody should enjoy the same rights and legal benefits as everybody else. Equality has to be universal and it has to apply to everyone, even the minority group.

      A referendum says that the majority decides what your human rights will be, and that is CRAZY!

      • Sara Sargasso says:

        So who should decide, and how?

        • Legalgal says:

          It has already been decided by adopting human rights. Or you have a referendum abolishing Human Rights?!

        • Egalitarian says:

          “Who should decide and how?”

          A great question and a hard one to answer.
          First we have to agree that everybody should enjoy the same rights and legal benefits as everybody else.
          If there are exceptions to that ideal then we need to understand how that is acceptable.
          Emotional and politically driven responses hurt the discussion and make it impossible to resolve a painful issue.
          We as a community have to decide … assuming we have a community … and honestly sometimes I wonder.

      • Lala says:

        If the abolition of slavery in the US (and many other countries) had been put to referendum, it would never have happened.

        I believe human rights issues should be felt with quickly and with as little red tape as possible. JUST GET IT DONE!!

    • Raymond Ray says:

      “It is my personal belief that a referendum is the way forward”
      @ Build a Better Bermuda, whomever you may be I want you and others to understand that it’s my opinion… And we all know what they say opinion being like right?

  2. a bunch of crock again, why don’t you just say sorry we had to lie to you, that just as gaming, same sex civil unions are a done deal,and same sex marriage is to follow, Mr Richards I think you were a real man to stepped up to plate and really took the bull by the hands, and that is more then I can say for many who sit in the house on both sides of the house.

    Needless to say I am sorry that you have been hood winked by your party to consider otherwise, but as I said in the beginning, your party knows exactly what decisions they are going to make on this topic, and the are hell bent on giving it the green light all the way through, the two town hall meetings is just a smoke screen, just as civil unions is a smoke screen.

    They will keep pressing forward until they legalize same sex marriages,do what they want, but don’t force it down the throat of our children that they must be taught in school to accept a alternative lifestyle, then Bermuda will see the radicals come to the fore front.

    • jt says:

      You’ve completely missed the plot Duane. You and I disagree on SSM and that’s fine, but these guys are too smart for you, apparently.

  3. Lmaoo says:

    “Referendum is the way forward” MP Richards

    “I decided not to table the bill today as we figure out the best way forward”

    LOL can the OBA stop politricking please. They’re really bad at the tactics

    • Beep Blip says:

      Amen. THey are being absolute ********* right now. wont do anything because they are scared close to next election. Civil Union is BS. equal rights for all = Marriage for all.

      • Onion juice says:

        You put it on the table and then you take it off. We need some strong men with B@lls.
        A doubled minded man is unstable in ALL his ways.

        • hmmm says:

          Sexist much !

        • Cup of tea anyone? says:

          “We need some stron men with b@lls”… you are FOR SSM then.
          Welcome to the right side of history.


    • Bullseye says:

      because there are none. You just can’t believe it so you create them. Tricksters see tricks everywhere.

  4. WOW says:

    “Follow your conscience but always keep that door open.”
    -Michael Dunkley.

    RESONATE on that statement people.

  5. ConcernedBermudian says:

    What would his objection be to civil unions? What fair thinking individual would be against offering legal rights to those who presently are without? At least when it goes to the vote there are members within the plp that will be compelled to vote for civil unions. It will pass. Richards is going down the wrong path on this subject. I thought he was more open minded that this. I was wrong.

    • Wilson says:

      Richards is stating his personal view and being honest unlike some others that don’t want to say yes or no.

      • ConcernedBermudian says:

        This issue is undoubtably a hot potato, that most politicians from either side, would prefer not to handle. The govt. faced by court rulings and calls from those directly affected, has come up with a good compromise, after a consultation period, where anyone was able to make written submissions expressing opinions on the matter. The move to make civil unions legal, is a way of dealing with the matter in the most practical way right now. What real objection can anyone have to it? It does not alter traditional marriage yet offers same the legal rights to those who desire them. Whether the majority agree that equal rights for all people in society in a good thing, is neither here nor there. The courts have decided and are forcing the hand of the govt. to act and act by Feb 29th.

      • bluwater says:

        “Richards is stating his personal view and being honest unlike some others that don’t want to say yes or no.”

        No, a free vote on civil union in the House is being honest. He’s trying push the issue off to avoid the responsibility of upholding the law.

  6. Spectator says:

    “Should this matter be decided by referendum? Can you imagine if the question of retaining segregation across Southern United States – which only affected 12% of the U.S. population – had been decided by referendum?” I refer Sylvan Richards and all commenters to the above statement from an opinion written by Glenn Fubler and published in Bernews on February 11. If you haven’t read it yet, it is worth your time.

  7. Wilson says:

    You can have as many town hall meetings as you want OBA, it’s either yes or no when it comes down to the voters. People minds will not change. It’s my personal belief that I’m not ready to see 2 men holding hands walking or laying together in love on a beach towel at Horseshoe Bay.

    Hold a referendum on this and decriminalizing marijuana in small amounts and stop wasting time and energy. Let the people vote on both topics since so many people on both sides say the numbers are on their side.

    • Onion juice says:

      They will not hold a Referendum because they know that the MOJORITY are not for this Bull S!@#.
      They just make up Laws for their pleasure without getting a consensus from the populous and getting a concerted result, which is a part of Democracy.
      But yet we get the opposite which is Border lining Dictatorship.

      • ConcernedBermudian says:

        You seem to have forgotten about the court ruling and the Feb 29th deadline for govt. to comply.

    • hmmm says:

      They can do that now, so why the resistance.

      Although why you are staring at beachgoers in the first place is quite disturbing.

      • WHAT!!!! says:

        What B ach are you hanging out at? I never seen men perform these “They can do that now”

    • Legalgal says:

      So you are happy to do drugs but hate love. Wow. If you don’t like gay people don’t marry a gay person. But your prejudice should not prevent a gay person marrying. Doesn’t matter what the mob think.

    • Cranberry says:

      Some years ago I bet you said the same thing about marriage between races too. How did that work out for you??

    • Mike Hind says:

      Um… They’re already allowed to do these things?

      Continuing the injustice of denying rights to Bermudians isn’t going to change the fact that gay folks are allowed to hold hands in public and lay on the beach together.

      • Another Pawn says:

        Plan a walk/protest to Cabinet with everyone who supports your cause or lie down/type on a keyboard and do nothing.

        • Mike Hind says:

          Yes. ‘Cuz that’s the ONLY way to change things.

          Come on. Surely you don’t believe that.
          You CAN’T believe that marching on Cabinet is the only way to get things done around here.

          Or do you?

    • Cow Polly says:

      A referendum on SSM will not prevent two men holding hands walking or laying together in love on a beach now will it?

  8. Acegurl says:

    Referendum, this is a human rights issue? You are the government make the decision. Not all voters get what they want all of the time. This is 21st century. Please don’t make it like the gambling issue. Gambling is so passé in other developed destinations and this country is still debating it 25 years on. Just do it!

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

    Hahahaah. ..y’all pissed off now because they will let the people vote…by all means this is the only way to go…y’all want the govt. To decide so you can have someone to point the finger at but guess what…now YOU will be the deciding factor…contractual agreements will provide the RIGHTS y’all want…If it’s passes then you can thank the people not the govt…If it is declined then I will thank the people.

    Oh and by the way, stop comparing this subject to the right to vote or some slave ship mentality crap that y’all bring up for any and every subject…now we will see the percentage of who is for this unnatural lifestyle…If the majority votes for or against this there is NO ONE to BLAME but us Bermujans!!! Finally the freedom to make decisions for ourselves instead of being dictated to…also I’m not interested in hypothetical situations…

    TIRED of hearing politicans getting blamed…We the People…and so forth.

    • ConcernedBermudian says:

      A Referendum, will no happen. This would have to pass in the House and it won’t. There are plp members who will be compelled to vote in favour of civil unions and not or against for this red herring. If you need a sense of perspective on people’s rights, read Glen Fubler’s opinion piece on Bernews. Stop thinking that your personal insecurities and hang ups should dictate how others live.

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

        I’d rather a judgment by 65,000 people than 40 people who’s faceing the public being ridiculously accused of bigotry because they are exercising their rights…also I don’t need to read Glen Fubler’s opinion piece because that’s just what it is,his opinion…you have one and so do I…

    • planeasday says:

      Exactly – like two men or women being denied marriage is in the same league of abomination that slavery is…

      Those who would seek to advance the gay agenda always refer topic, this human rights issue, as if it is a direct comparison…get it through your heads being denied marriage is no where near the plight slaves endured in history and at present!!

      Men and Men and Women and Women have NO RIGHT TO MARRY – where on earth have you seen this written in any religion detailing our god given rights or any constitution detailing our rights as occupiers of our god given body?

      You are all attempting to correlate these issues because YOU THINK IT IS YOUR RIGHT just as you think your lifestyle is natural…but unfortunately for you in the grand scheme of things you are all an aberration – nature itself proves it.

      • Cup of tea anyone? says:

        Nature? There are endless examples of homosexuality in nature.
        Jeez my people are dopey!
        Bermuda is worse than i thought

      • Anbu says:

        Its the same so stuff your opinion. Equal rights r just that. Equal. They have the right to marry just like us. The chipmon your shoulder is onviously blinding you.

  10. Keeping pace says:

    Three comments –
    1. Just because everyone else does something does not make it right.
    2. MPs do not own their votes, it belongs to those who voted them in.
    3. Why do we continually follow behind nations who make negative decisions which have deadly consequences for its people instead of engaging in positive communications with all parties so that we come up with solutions which brings peace and harmony?

    OBA, you should have had government’s attorneys make an appeal on the judge’s ruling rather than placing hurried legislation in front of the MPs. Then you could have drafted truly thought provoked legislation which will foster harmony and peace. I cannot see this (or any of the other three hot buttons on the public’s minds of late) resulting in your party having an easy return as the government of Bermuda because of the constant mind set of your party that the majority of Bermudians are not smart enough to understand that you have no respect for the masses and have every intention of pushing personal and party agendas down the throats of Bermudians. I grew up in the 60s and the same political mentality was driving our community back then. You were elected to represent both those for SSM as well as those who wish to Preserve Marriage. Stop with the judge is making us do this and do what you were elected to do – REPRESENT THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED YOU!!!! Remember they do not owe you their vote.

  11. Roger says:

    MP Richards last week was asking who is speaking for the PLP.

    12th February 2016, you put on the order paper a private members bill entitled ‘Same sex marriage referendum Act 2016″ then you withdraw your motion. On a TV interview you say it was a procedural glitch and here you say “after consultation with my Parliamentary colleagues, I decided to not lay the Bill today”.


    We shall soon see.

  12. clearasmud says:

    It is clear that What the government is planning on doing is designed to allow they to not have to take a position. They are essentially saying that the two opposing groups and the chief justice’s ruling has forced their hand, but they could have appealed the courts ruling if they did not agree with it.