When I came out as a lesbian in 1993, I could never have predicted that Bermuda would be on the brink of Marriage Equality in my lifetime. It was the same year that Wilfred ‘Oopie’ Ming Jr., a gay man, was murdered, shortly before he was about to leave Bermuda for college.
Many progressive things have happened for the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) community in Bermuda since Oopie’s death.
In 1994 the House of Assembly passed the Stubbs Bill to decriminalize homosexuality in Bermuda, in 2013 the Bermuda Senate approved the proposed amendment to the Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, and now in 2017, we are the closest to full Marriage Equality in Bermuda than we have ever been. Finally, same-gender loving Bermudians and their partners will have equal access to marriage and all of its benefits.
The marriage equality ruling is cause for celebration, but we must also keep in mind all the hard work that still needs to be done. We still need to educate people about who same-gender loving Bermudians are, and who we are not. We are your daughters, sons, sibling and cousins.
We are your trash truck drivers, servers, nurses, teachers and lawyers. We are not deviants, pedophiles and purveyors of some peculiar and mysterious “lifestyle”. We are a reflection of you and we are living a life, not a lifestyle.
My wife and I were ecstatic when the ruling came down, we had talked about moving to Bermuda years earlier, but were resigned to living in Canada where our marriage is considered just as legal as a heterosexual marriage.
Though marriage equality has been the law of the land in Canada since 2005, it took a lot of education and uncomfortable conversations to get Canada to the point where it is today. If Canada held a referendum on marriage equality today I am cautiously optimistic that the vote would be in support of gay marriage, but in my humble opinion, asking the entire electorate whether or not two consenting adults who love each other should be allowed to marry is an overreach.
The other day I joked that I am going to start telling straight people that I don’t condone their marriages and see how they like it. I suspect that my opinion on the marriage of a stranger would have as much impact as a stranger’s opinion on my marriage.
In the spirit of being helpful, I thought of some uncomfortable questions that are frequently asked of same-gender couples, here are some of my answers:
When two men marry, they are both the husband.
When two women marry, they are both the wife.
If a same gender couple has a child, they are both the parents – if you have a close relationship with the couple you might wonder who the biological parent is, but it is really no one’s business but theirs.
When it comes to housework, there are some same-gender couples that adhere to typical gender binary roles (male and female), but many do not.
Having said all that, like most other communities, same-gender loving people are not a monolith and do not all share the same thoughts, opinions, or values. I predict that Bermuda will continue to grow and mature socially and politically, and that someday a man will refer to having a husband and the only follow-up questions will be “What is his name is, where he is from, and who are his people?”, then Bermuda will truly feel like home.
*Note: Transgender Bermudians are omitted because there is still so much more work to do in the fight for their full legal recognition. I suspect this will be a much longer conversation.
Sylvia Hayward-Harris Tuesday, 09 May 2017 19:14 Comment Link
First step, educate. Unfortunately, like leading the proverbial horse to water, oink those whose minds and hearts are open will hear you. The rest are willfully blind and deaf. Sadly, they are not also dumb and ares still actively spreading their negativity. It seems inevitable that there will be an appeal ands this may go all the way to the Privy Counsel. My advice to all Bermudians abroad who wish to marry is come home quick and insist the Registrar post your banns. As has been said elsewhere, it is much more difficult to take away or remove a right that has already been givenReport