Burt: ‘Reprehensible That Premier Would Abstain’

July 11, 2016

[Updated] On an “emotive issue such as same sex marriage there are bound to be differences of opinion” however it is “reprehensible that the Premier of the country would abstain from voting on this amendment,” Acting Opposition Leader David Burt said.

Bill To Block Same Sex Marriage Passes In House

Mr Burt’s comments follow after the Human Rights Amendment 2016 — which seeks to maintain marriage as being defined as between a man and a woman — passed in the House of Assembly on Friday.

The Bill was originally brought to the House by Opposition MP Wayne Furbert back in February, and then voted on during Friday’s session after an Amendment by Attorney-General Trevor Moniz.

The audio of the vote on both the Amendment and the amended Bill is below:

The first vote was held on the Amendment to the Bill, which passed with 21 votes for, 9 against, and 1 abstention, which was from Premier Michael Dunkley, who said he had arranged a meeting with the Human Rights Commission.

The second vote was then held on the amended Bill, with those speaking against the Bill prior to the vote including Mark Pettingill [OBA], Dr Grant Gibbons [OBA], Walton Brown [PLP], Glen Smith [OBA] and Shawn Crockwell [Independent], while those speaking in favour of the Bill included Wayne Furbert [PLP], Craig Cannonier [OBA], Wayne Scott [OBA] and Sylvan Richards [OBA].

Premier’s Comments In House

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, the Premier said, “I asked the honourable member to hold the Bill over to next week. As my colleague, the honourable Pat Gordon-Pamplin had said, because we had arranged meetings with various people about it and one of those was with the Human Rights Commission.

“The honourable member said he would consider it, but at the end of the day, after he considered it, he didn’t carry it forward.

Audio extract of Premier’s comments in the House

“I was disappointed with that because I think as a Human Rights Commission was appointed and approved by this legislature and they have very important work to do, it’s important that we listen to what they feel about this situation at this period of time.

“And so my concern is, having arranged the meeting with the Human Rights Commission next week to bring this Bill forward this time and to resume a committee on it was inappropriate, because it makes a mockery of any meetings that are arranged.

“And so I cannot support this amendment at this period of time, because I believe fully in the work that the Human Rights Commission has to do and I think as politicians, we need to give them the opportunity to listen and hear what they have to say and respect the important responsibilities we give them.”

David Burt’s Comments

Mr Burt said, “On an emotive issue such as same sex marriage, there are bound to be differences of opinion, hence the reason to have a conscience vote in the House of Assembly.

“It is, however, reprehensible that the Premier of the country would abstain from voting on this amendment. For what legitimate reason would Premier Dunkley abstain?

David Burt Bermuda July 8 2016

“The job of a leader is to lead from the front. For the Leader of the country to abstain on an issue such as this shows weak leadership. Premier Dunkley has continued to show himself to be a weak and ineffective leader.

“Instead of stepping up to the plate when a leader should, he has cowered in the shadows afraid of making a tough decision, while hiding behind poor excuses. While the public may take issue with the stances taken by some MPs, the real dereliction of duty has come from the Premier.

“Leadership is about courage. The people need leaders who have the courage to stand by their convictions. A failure to vote on such an amendment violates the trust between the electorate and the Member of Parliament and shows no courage whatsoever.”

Update 1.09pm: Premier’s Response

In response, Premier Michael Dunkley said, “As I mentioned in the House of Assembly on Friday, I will be meeting shortly with the Human Rights Commission – a meeting that was scheduled two weeks ago.

“The Human Rights Commission has important responsibilities to protect the rights and freedoms enshrined in Bermuda’a Constitution, and the Government should hear from it before amending the Act that gives rise to those responsibilities.

“At the start of Friday’s sitting of the House of Assembly, MP Wayne Furbert was asked to hold off on moving his Bill forward pending the meeting with the Commission, but he refused. I therefore told MP Furbert and the House of Assembly that it would be inappropriate to consider a Bill impacting the Human Rights Act without hearing from the Commission.

“Bermudians have been discussing and debating this emotive and divisive issues of same sex marriage and civil unions for more than a year, and it is important to hear from the Commission in light of legislative plans and recent developments in the courts for same sex rights.

“My personal position is that I do not support same sex marriage but do support civil unions, but as Premier, it is my responsibility to always work for solutions that result in consensus.

“On some issues, that may not be possible, but it is something that as Premier I am duty-bound to work for, even when it does not seem popular thing to do.”

Update 6.35pm: Walter Roban’s Comments

Acting Deputy Leader Walter Roban said, “It is unfortunate that Premier Dunkley chose to abstain on the issue of Same Sex Marriage in the House of Assembly. As he has stated his opposition to Same Sex Marriage, then why would he not record his vote as such?

“Why did Premier Dunkley feel the need to confer with the HRC prior to voting? Was he expecting to be guided by their wishes in executing his constitutional responsibility? If so, then why was he the only member of the Cabinet or the OBA that felt the need to consult with the HRC? If he felt this was so vital, did he not share this with his members? All of the remaining eligible OBA voters proceeded to cast their vote.

Premier Dunkley’s actions and excuses surrounding this issue confirm what has been thought in many quarters for months now; Premier Dunkley has not the metal nor fortitude to lead Bermuda. If he cannot make up his own mind and stand by his decision, then he is showing a complete lack of leadership.

“First, he lacked the political will to make a decision and took the country to a divisive referendum. Now he chooses to abstain to absolve himself of any blame by any particular side. What he has done however, is confirm to Bermuda that they have a weak leader who is unable or unwilling to make the tough decisions. Premier Dunkley wanted the job, but for some reason, does not want to make the tough decisions.”

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Comments (88)

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  1. archy says:

    however it is “reprehensible that the Premier of the country would abstain from voting on this amendment,” Acting Opposition Leader David Burt said.

    ROFL! Reprehensible that anyone should vote against it!

    • Rhonnda Oliver says:

      You have that backwards.

      It’s reprehensible that anyone voted for it.

      But I’m intrigued that on such an “emotive” issue Mr. Burt wasn’t aware of the primary reason behind the push for same-sex marriage and civil unions.

      Makes me wonder how many people weren’t if one of the leaders wasn’t.

      • Rhonnda Oliver says:

        I should add that I’m not happy that Mr. Dunkley abstained. If a leader refuses to vote on such a major issue, what point is there in his being there.

    • OBSERVER says:

      TO archy:
      Oh, please.
      If you do not like the happenings here, L____!!!!
      Too many people want what they want in Bermuda. Your comment is no different.
      It is reprehensible, in a democracy, that one should feel obligated to vote YOUR WAY or the highway.

  2. watching says:

    Get him Burt!

    • hmmm says:

      How about you READ the article and Dunkley reasons.

    • CBA says:

      Do you not think it’s reprehensible for the PROGRESSIVE Labor Party to bring a bill that is anything but progressive? Do you think the PLP is actually a liberal labor party as the name suggests?

      • watching says:

        Actually this was a private members bill brought by one PLP MP, and amended by the OBA AG. So to label it as a PLP Bill isn’t quite accurate.

        • Gargoyle Wings says:

          Pataytoes, Patahtoes

        • hmmm says:

          You can’t sneeze in the PLP without running it through caucus.

          So the PLP must have decided to have someone hang themselves as a hater by bringing the bill. PLP too cowardly to have the blood on their hands.

          Either that or the PLP has not recovered from their recent implosion.

      • OBSERVER says:

        TO CBA:
        If you choose to not agree, ferociously, with Burt’s comments, you have your options. You do not have to reside here.

    • OBSERVER says:


      Precisely. There are far too many people who have come here , wanting to switch, change,and feel that they can do as they like.
      When they are met with a “massive block in the road” , they are insistent on rock-throwing.
      Later for them.

  3. pondy says:

    I think it shows excellent judgement that the Premier chose not to vote on this. Let the people decide the outcome. We do not need to know how the Premier feels about this … that would only serve to divide!

    • watching says:

      The Leader of the country should have a position and should not be afraid to go on record with his position.

      • Onion Juice says:

        These fools are not fit enough to lead me, bunch of whimps.

        • OBSERVER says:

          TO Onion Juice:
          You are correct. A bunch of fools.
          If there are persons here in Bermuda who vigourously oppose Burt, they should leave this island .Find their utopia elsewhere.

          • innna says:

            great attitude… enjoy ur uneducated rock when we all leave… heard hatii is a wonderful place to model ur new independent country after

        • Party of De Problem says:

          @Onion Juice , like they say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink – or is it think?!?

        • Full Fuulish says:

          We all know full well why you would never support these so called “fools” and its got nothing to do with them being fit or wimps.

          At least be consistent with your hatred OJ!

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        He has said his position before, but he also must uphold the laws of Bermuda and should rightly be discussing with those bodies responsible for upholding those laws.

        He does not have to serve the whims of an MP/s who is only out to try and cut off the impeding court cases, so he can uphold his religious values over all others.

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

        You mean like Marc Beans absolute NO vote..?

    • blankman says:

      Since he asked for a delay in order to hear back from the Human Rights Commission but was refused that he should have voted NO with the logic that all the facts were not in.

      • Rhonnda Oliver says:

        Given that he didn’t know what the human rights commission would say, he should have voted with his convictions. (Which i I recall correctly, I don’t agree with).

        He’d had plenty of time leading up to the referendum to talk to the human rights commission and anyone else he thought appropriate about the ramifications of either outcome.

        I’m concerned that he didn’t.

    • OBSERVER says:

      The U.B.P./oba have done a fantastic and fine job in dividing the country.

    • Terry says:

      The people don’t decide in the house you fool.
      We put the fools there.

  4. LostinFlatts says:

    Wait, Burt found something the Premier/OBA did ‘reprehensible’? And that’s news?

    The Premier could save a litter of orphaned puppies on his was from discovering the cure to cancer while delivering world peace and Burt would release a statement saying how it was reprehensible.

    This opposition is only good at one thing: getting criticism of the government into the media. And it’s going to win them an election. Platforms, track record, actual performance are overrated. Today’s electorate want things simple, angry and confrontational. Burt is made for it. And the PLP are going to win the next election because of it.

    Which says more about us an electorate than it does about the PLP’s tactics, to be honest.

    • steve says:

      LOL -Totally true,we see it every day

    • umok says:

      The PLP could have a fundraiser for breast cancer and OBA/UBP supporters would claim they are stealing from the people or whatever. It goes both ways.

  5. sandgrownan says:

    The only reprehensible part about this shameful episode, is that 20 bigots voted to support this bill, including this twit.

    Shame on you all.

    • sandgrownan says:

      36 dislikes? An island of bigots. Shame on you all for denying basic rights.

      • OBSERVER says:

        Do you feel that NOW is the time to search other parts of the world to reside??
        “An island of bigots”??YOU need to exit swiftly.How can you possibly reside with and criticize badly against the very people you live with and amongst.
        You present as CONFUSED and DAZED.

      • John.Galt says:

        you obviously dont understand what a basic right actually is…. let me enlighten you. Your rights require nobodys consent or agreement. Marriage requires the agreement of 2 or more parties. Therefore it cannot be a “right”. If it is a holy RITE of matrimony, not only does it require the 2 parties to consent with an “i do” but it also requires the agreement of the priest or imam. If it is a govt sanctioned contract it also requires the agreement not only of the govt officials, but also of EVERYONE! You can se it in the paper in the classified ads where notices of intended marriage are listed.

        Im happy to have cleared that all up for you.

        there is a difference between rights and privileges, even those people on your side keep trying to misconstrue the differences between the two.

    • steve says:

      Amen to that!

      • OBSERVER says:

        Read what OBSERVER has written. It is applicable to YOU too. Pathetic duo.

      • Coffee says:

        The Dunkley should have voted his conscious … Oh snap ! He doesn’t have one .

  6. hmmm says:

    Burt voted against a minority group having equal rights.

    That is not brave, that is not courageous, he is a coward. Yet he comes on here spouting his nonsense on courage.

    Burt you are WEAK. Please stop trying to cover it up.

    • Onion Juice says:

      Minority is de key word, in Democracy, Majority (supposed) to rule.

      • hmmm says:

        SO you are saying there shouldn’t be representation for minority groups?

        Hmmm children, Seniors, Men under 5foot8 are all minority groups. You are saying we should do away with their current rights because they are a minority.

        Perhaps certain churches should be banned as they are the minority. Well they would be in Onion Juice world.

        • Time Shall Tell says:

          hmmm & blankman you’re both twisting what Onion Juice was referring to, agree with him in general or not he is correct on this ONE point. He is not saying a minority group shouldn’t be represented, what he is saying that minority groups need to have majority support in a democratic society. You can have an interest group of 20 people on the island looking to make a change via a vote. If that group of 20 gets the support of the majority then their vote passes. It’s not as you two have put it, that since the group is only made up of 20 people that 20 people is all who can support them.

          You know this already though don’t you. Agree with Onion or not, like Onion or not, doesn’t matter but at least have a legitimate counter argument.

      • blankman says:

        If majority rule is always right women still wouldn’t be allowed to vote. We’d still have whites only lunch counters. Mixed race marriages would still be illegal. The list goes on ….

      • Mike Hind says:

        You are actually arguing AGAINST protecting minorities. You get that, right?

      • OBSERVER says:

        TO Onion Juice….YES!! YES!!

      • Party of De Problem says:

        Wow Onion Juice….it all make sense to me now. Minorities shouldn’t have rights? But we know how you work (or what you get paid to say). OBA says Up, you say down. they say hot, you say cold. they say go left, you say go right….even when it’s wrong.

      • be realistic says:

        Minority is ‘the’ key word, not ‘de’

    • I heart 441 says:

      Bold statement, thankfully though the majority of people dislike your opinion.

      • hmmm says:

        No they don’t that is one or two people, plus a bunch of muppets doing multiple clicks to fool the people of Bermuda(doing it the PLP way)

  7. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    After a decades long struggle to ensure all peoples are given equality under the law, the Human rights Act was born to ensure that no one could be discriminated against by the law. And Friday night, 2/3rds of Parliament voted to allow the HumanRights Act to discriminate people… as Mr. Burt was among those that decided it was acceptable to do this, I cannot believe he is trying to describe someone else as reprehensible. He helped pass a law to legalize discrimination against a minority for being who they were born to be. in that one vote, Mr. Burt and the rest of the Shameful 20 not only legalized discrimination, but violated the Human Rights Act, violated our Freedom of Religion, failed to uphold the most important principle of democracy that all its citizens are equal under the law and enshrined in our laws the promotion of intolerance. Reprehensible doesn’t begin to describe the Shameful 20

    • stunned... says:

      thank you @BABB

      the shameful 20 who supported the bill: Reprehensible – Anti-equality – Pro-discrimination = Legalized discrimination.

      in my mind it is abhorrent that people with albinism are discriminated against, hunted and killed in certain African countries in 2016. equally, this legalized discrimination against same sex couples in 2016 is equally disturbing and WRONG.

  8. M says:

    It’s says a lot that a bill which advances the marginalization of the Bermuda’s LGBT community, brought forward by a PLP MP, was supported by majority of the OBA MPs. It was a rare moment of by bipartisanship. It’s must have been a blue moon on Friday night.

    Wayne Furbert’s next bill should re-instate Bermuda’s sodomy laws. How about we ban homosexuals from teaching in the schools at the same time.

    I would encourage MPs who supported this amendment not to hold back when referring the member of the LGBT community in the future. Please let us know how you really feel.

  9. Joe says:

    Vote them OUT call an election please too weak to lead this country

    • blankman says:

      I agree – only problem is that the alternative is worse. At least as bigoted and they’re the group that are responsible for the mess the economy is in.

  10. steve says:

    Like a few of the other 20, Burt isn’t just a Bigot, he is proud of it and quite pleased with himself

    • sandgrownan says:

      He wears his ignorance as a badge of honour.

  11. Long Bay Trading Co. says:

    what is truely REPREHENSIBLE is that this Bill was even drafted and tabled in the first place. The PLP has now totally confirmed my long held thoughts. They are made up of dinosaures and bigots with no vision or ability to imagine a world as it is TODAY, not 300 years ago. The PLP are NOT “progressive” nor do they care for any one that must “labour” through such narrow minded, backward thinking behaviour and they sure ain’t no “Party” for you represent a “party” that I would never, ever want to attend!!!!

    Shame on every single last one of you for supporting this hateful Bill. PLP and OBA you make me ashamed to possibly be even associated with this distasteful, ugly Bill.

  12. Joe says:

    we have now come to realize we have a lot of nasty folks in both political party’s Bermuda is doomed either way just rotate them after every term we know they will not Stand Strong For Bermudians and what part of the other side are progressive we are heading backwards

  13. joly says:

    Funny given that Marc Bean was absent – thereby abstaining as well.
    Unimpressed that Burt says this is not a human rights issue – the regressive labour party.

    • watching says:

      Are you serious?
      if one is not present in the House they are not abstaining.
      Abstaining is when the person has the ability to vote and chooses not to. Premier Dunkley sat there and remained silent when it was time to vote.
      Marc Bean is on medical leave and therefore was not in attendance.

    • BOO says:

      take your freaky European culture, and go live happily ever after down SOHO !

    • OBSERVER says:

      TO joly:
      Get it right.
      THE oba is truly the U.B.P.cloaked in wolves’ clothing.

  14. 21st Century says:

    If the laws of hundred years or so ago were still in effect this would not have passed, as only the white, male landowners would have had a vote on the matter.

  15. AD says:

    Why is it that some of those that have been discriminated against, and actively fought such discrimination, now find it acceptable to discriminate against others. Very odd.

    I always find it useful to see who is on my side in an argument of this nature. It’s good to know what company you’re keeping. I am in support of marriage equality. I have the NAACP, the US Supreme Court, Canada, South Africa, most of Western Europe and South America in my corner.

    The countries with the most extreme views on the other side of the argument seem to be in the Middle East, and the largely Muslim countries of Africa and Asia. I’m happy with my side, but best of luck with the likes of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan – very progressive and successful countries those, I’m sure their views will ultimately prevail (Ha!)

    • truth be told says:

      Seriously! Such venom for a difference of opinion. If you don’t support SSM you are a bigot and hypocrite!!! Clearly the SSM supporters have no respect for anyone who doesn’t support their agenda. This is a democracy the people should choose. Albeit, a null referendum the message was clear NO/NO! Please have some respect!! Can’t we all just get along??

      • Just the Tip says:

        How do you have respect for some one who looks down on you? How do you respect some one who willingly blocks your rigths and for no valid reason?

        I don’t mind if people are not okay with SSM i’m fine with people not being okay with gays, my mother and father are among them. It is their right to have those views but the moment someone steps on my rights or blocks me from them I’m not fine with it.

        and why shouldn’t be harsh with those that block rights while all the while spouting that they are doing what is “Right” and “Moral” trying to claim moral high ground when everything they do is opposite. How do you not rage at someone who refuses to have a proper conversation but instead goes “The Bible says…” then sticks their fingers in their ears and ignores everything that is said.

        When it going to rights and human rights no the majority should not be able to choose. If that were so then women would have the rights they have, blacks wouldn’t have the right they have (still need to work on this) . and the message wasn’t clear because the majority didn’t vote, has it not struck you that there is a possibility that if they had come out they would have voted yes? supposing all the no votes were what was given? it would mean the no’s would be the minority.

        And yes we can all get along when we all have the same rights and we are all equal in the eyes of the law. But until then no because I should have to be a second class citizen in my own country.

      • AD says:

        I don’t see any “venom” in my comment whatsoever. Sure you can have a different opinion. Everyone can have different opinions. But your opinion, or my opinion, or even yes the opinion of most of the population should NEVER EVER be used to deny people rights that other people have.

        We are not just getting along. There are people right now who do not have the same rights as others. Who are you to deny them these rights? Human rights aren’t up for a vote. A proper constitutional democracy must uphold the will of the people, but it must also guarantee to protect minority rights.

        I am ashamed of our elected leaders. They have left the most basic principles of democracy outside on the steps of parliament, for what?

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        You can’t have a democracy unless first and foremost all its citizens are equal under the law. This is the primary promise of democracy

      • Mike Hind says:

        Can’t we all just get along?

        While one group is promoting a denial of rights to Bermudians for absolutely no reason?

        Where’s the respect in that?

        This isn’t about a difference of opinion. The anti-equality position actually hurts people.
        This isn’t about opinions, it’s about actions that are affecting people’s lives in a very negative way, for no reason at all.

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      Yeah go over to the Middle East and voice your opinion…but make sure you write your name and next of kins number on a piece of paper so that you can be identified when you are found.

  16. Joe says:

    Bermuda will always remember the Day the Shameful 21 voted against human rights beyond unbelievable but I guess that will be their only political legacy’s

  17. Gargoyle Wings says:

    So David, you refuse to give your views on the topic pre-referenedum, then after you feel emboldened to speak “with the majority”…even though the referendum was considered not answered. So what would have happened if the referendum would have went the other way? I mean, your statements above are coming from both sides of your mouth, so that you can attempt to smooth things over later if the law switches. You are an opportunist. You are just as disgusting as the Premier.

  18. Terry says:

    And next on the Bermuda and the Restless.

    I sat and had a cold beer after reading all this crap on this page and others.

    Someone yell Zeka……………………………..

    That will be the demise.

  19. Mr Sparkle says:

    Burt the bigot … what a sad, misguided person he is denying equal rights to his gay constitutes.

  20. Long Bay Trading Co. says:

    This Bill truely ain’t no “step for Mankind”. It is a GIANT LEAP BACKWARDS into the dark ages.

    Memo to BTA and the BDA – STOP all of your hard work and long hours to promote Bermuda. The PEOPLE THAT WE VOTED FOR TO REPRESENT US in the House of Parliament just made us the most bigoted nation this side of 2016.

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      Why??…because we didn’t follow the MAJORITY vote globally? Y’all are fools…watch what now comes your way!

  21. format says:

    What is reprehensible is for a section of our society to be denying basic rights to another section of our society.

    Bermuda is indeed another world. A backward, navel gazing one.

  22. Rene Clarke says:

    Apparently Burt isn’t even aware that the idea of civil unions or marriage are a human rights issue. Neither does he believe gays can create a family. This is apparently only possible with opposite sex couples. This is even more reprehensible then critizing the Premier for not voting. At least in my opinion.

  23. Legalgal says:

    Looks like he was perfectly right to abstain. (assuming he knew his vote would not have made a difference.)

    The vote should never have taken place.

  24. John E. Thorne says:

    The Premier has every right to abstain for the good reasons he has given. God help us if David Rum Swizzle Burt ever becomes Premier of this island.

  25. Navin Johnson says:

    First off I am an OBA supporter and voter but my patience is wearing thin…..never thought Michael Dunkley would be so weak and ineffectual…….to abstain is an act of cowardice and lack of leadership ….grow a pair and take a stand…..I believe the law is wrong and shows how far behind Bermuda is…why not turn everything over to the Churches as they seem to be in charge anyway ….

  26. steve says:

    Burts playbook: #1 if premier obtains- I will call him a week leader and perhaps ask that he resign

    #2 the premier Votes against the bill- I will state I am shocked and state once again he is out of touch touch with the people and I may ask him to resign
    #3 the premier votes in favor of the bill – I will state he is no better than me and my colleagues so therefore is not fit to lead this country and may ask that he resign.

    Grow up

  27. Tom Cooke says:

    There will be an election… PLP will win… just by how it looks now… then.. well get a new airport. . More infastruca… costing way too much.. world Bank will step in an god help us aĺl..
    The courts will sort out what our pathetic bunch of so called leaders could not do…

  28. DeShaun says:

    Either way the shameful 21 won’t be getting our votes NO NO NO NO NO NO NO …………..

  29. OBSERVER says:

    Good for you, Mr. Burt. Keep them all on their tootsies.

  30. drunken ursula says:

    that milkman so call leader is a coward… he already knows the HRC stance on this matter, he needs to be replaced !!!!! SHAME SHAME

  31. wahoo says:

    Reprehensible that anyone wants to politicize something so fundamental as another person’s life and rights. I am becoming more and more disenchanted with the system and the people who want to represent me- they are liars. Burt lies, Dunkley lies, Crockwell lies….