Politics

OBA’s same-sex pledge to churches

The One Bermuda Alliance will give churches the legal right to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages if it is re-elected.

The party’s platform states: “We will introduce legislation to protect churches from being forced to perform any services that are contrary to the central tenets of their faith.”

Michael Dunkley, the Premier, told The Royal Gazette the promise was included as a “commitment to protect any church in this matter”.

Gay marriage became legal in Bermuda following a landmark May 5 Supreme Court ruling. The civil case which resulted in the judgment was brought against the Government and it defended the action, ultimately losing.

Home affairs minister Pat Gordon-Pamplin has said it will not appeal the ruling and Mr Dunkley said his party’s position was very clearly stated by the minister.

She said at the time: “While we accept that widespread support of this very sensitive and emotive issue of marriage equality is difficult to achieve, we do, however, recognise that as a community we must be able to have open and honest conversations which help to encourage awareness, understanding, tolerance and respect for one another.”

The Progressive Labour Party touches on same-sex marriage in its manifesto, though it does not explicitly state whether it will abide by the May 5 ruling or seek to reverse it.

The Opposition platform says: “The issue of same sex marriage remains a matter of conscience for our members. We accept that same-sex couples should have similar legal benefits as heterosexual couples, save for marriage, and will introduce legislation to achieve this aim.

“The issue of same-sex marriages has been a divisive one due to the lack of leadership by the OBA. Their failure to lead is an example of why they are unfit to lead. Our position takes into account the divisive nature of the issue and strikes the right balance.”

Party leader David Burt has stated publicly that he does not support same-sex marriage or civil unions. He said this week: “My position has not changed.”

He referred a question on what exactly was being promised under the platform to a party spokesman, who said: “The PLP believes that all people deserve to be treated with respect and fairness. However, the vast majority of our members remain opposed to gay marriage and this issue remains a matter of conscience for our members.”

No further comment from the PLP was given.

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