Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
When same sex marriage was legalised in June 2015 in the United States, I remember Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas expressing his deep discomfort that the nine members of the court could make such a profound decision for a nation of 300 million people.
We face a similar situation with the arbitrary change of ‘spouse’ to ‘partner’ on the Welcome Stamp application.
Our beloved Prime Minister has indicated that Barbadians do not discriminate, but she cannot speak for a Christian society on the very statutes that make that society ‘Christian’. Only the people of that society can sanction such a fundamental shift.
I teach a Marketing Research class at the University of the West Indies and last year my students completed a small, but highly representative study where 175 Barbadians of all walks of life were asked about the removal of buggery laws and same sex marriage. The following tables summarise some of the results, and the data set and data collection procedures can be shared with any interested party.
In 2014, my learned colleague Peter Wickham also conducted a similar study under the auspices of the HIV AIDS Commission/CADRES, which was reported in the August 2nd 2020 edition of the Sunday Sun.
At that time, 25 per cent of Barbadians supported same sex marriage. With 26.3 per cent of respondents in the 2019 study indicating support for same sex, that percentage has increased by only 1.3 per cent. It must be noted that 7.5 per cent of persons in the 2019 study failed to answer the question, and that some percentage of this group may have wanted to say ‘yes’ but refrained from doing so for whatever reason. When one considers all that has transpired globally in support of LGBTQ rights in the last five to six years, that definitive increase of 1.3 per cent is miniscule.
The Welcome Stamp sounds good at first impression, but a person’s life consists of more than work. I may be able to work from anywhere in the world, but my 65-year-old mother living in California is still depending on a weekly visit from me. Persons would also have to make decisions about taking children out of schools that they are performing well in or even abandoning extra-curricular interests that may not be as easy to pursue on our shores. Should this unproven Welcome Stamp initiative be allowed to shift our foundational values, especially without a referendum to the people of Barbados?
Prime Minister, it is time to ask the people. You are forthright in your dealings with us; don’t change that now.
I also have a personal challenge for you. On several occasions you have told the people of this country to pray when we were facing potential trouble or calamity. You even instructed Minister Colin Jordan to seek the Lord for our wellbeing on national television. Psalm 127:1 says “Except the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keeps the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
Every other Barbadian could probably quote Proverbs 14:34 which says “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” We either believe the Bible or we do not. Make up your mind, Prime Minister. But most importantly, let the people of Barbados speak theirs.
Joseann Knight, PhD is a Lecturer in Marketing at the Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies