Guess what? I’m pretty sure that in last Friday’s offering on issues related to same-sex/gender matters, Guyana-wise, I had promised to take a long time out from such topics.
But guess what again. I just happened to be in New York City, New York over the past week-end when the New York State government negotiated just enough votes to legalise same-sex marriage in that State. And for even those not too concerned with such goings-on, the new law and its implications held centre-stage in the collective mind of millions in the sixth and now largest of the American States to “bless” such unions.
So since I had essayed a return, in this column last Friday, to related concerns and the role of our local SASOD in promoting and protecting GLBT rights, it was easy to decide to share with you some of the intrigue, drama, colour, triumph and despair surrounding last Friday’s marriage equality vote in New York.
Why? Because, Frankly Speaking, this is a social issue that won’t go away, worldwide, including Guyana. Because the legal permission given to and by New York’s government is both symbolic and symptomatic, but in a very practical sense, in terms of the altering of centuries of human institutions and perhaps humanity itself. And because, naturally, the New York law also speaks to the challenge to longstanding religious teachings and traditions, even exposing (the usual) contradictions in the Christian Church.
GOD’S OWN CHILDREN, GAYS…
To me, whilst there, it was obvious that the issue generated four main elements: religious/moralistic, human/ civil rights, politics and economics.
I share the religious, moralistic implications first. When you talk Christianity and Bible here, I sense you’re speaking “older generation” mainly. The Christian-minded called numerous programmes to remind of the Bible’s teaching about man-woman relationships, about marriage and about why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God’s wrath. And the New York Roman Catholic Bishop expressed outrage at the legislation. Even though one of them- Archbishop Dolan- was constrained to apologise and explain (afterwards) that he had “nothing” against the Gay community and loved them as God’s children; he was, he said, mindful and protective of the Church’s concept of marriage.
(The Bishops still held that the “marriage equality” law “Is another nail in the coffin of marriage”, and that the State had no right to tamper with something so timeless and sacred to the human condition).
Poor Bishop, When traditional, purist Christians supported their position (a la Romans Chap. 2) others called in to quote Bible scripture which pointed to actual homosexual relationships amongst respected Bible characters and which also allegedly represented marriage as a mere convenience for the sharing of property (read Abraham and Samuel). Poor Bible
Moral values have changed drastically globally, human rights now often threaten to compromise responsibilities to be decent about those freedoms. The impact of same-sex marriages on the current generation under twenty-one remains to be appreciated (scientifically). Ad even as I was grappling with whether the NY politicians were really representing their constituencies’ preferences in terms of Man’s law vis-à-vis God’s law, reliable polls showed a majority of New Yorkers approved of the new form of marriage. Just where do we go from here? (Read my (outrageous?) conclusion below).
THE BOTTOM LINE? WHAT NEXT?
Both the Roman Catholic State Governor and NYC Mayor Bloomberg were also mindful for the new law’s positive impact on the State’s financial bottom line.
Bloomberg was openly direct: “It’s good for the economy!” More marriages, more taxes, more tourists for matrimony. Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are in vital positions in New York government and commerce; they wield authority and influence. Now, legally gay couples will enjoy rights related to inheritance, to healthcare benefits, even hospital visitation and funeral closures. New York’s economy will also enjoy income.
But what’s next? Whether in New York or Guyana, massive education and behavioural change will have to flow from such legislation. And don’t ever think me facetious or ridiculous when I say that it is possible, say fifty years from now, that some persons may demand laws to allow them to marry their favourite cat, dog, or donkey! Discuss…
ACCESS TO INFORMATION:
I’m postponing my in-depth views on this matter of the “freedom” of (public) information to another Friday. Except to ask you all this: do you know of many/any third world governments that would be comfortable with allowing access to all information of (even) a public nature?
I’m not referring to information related to national security, international negotiations at sensitive stages, sensitive public protection strategies or the constitutional privacy rights that all of us should enjoy. I notice that government’s spokespersons have already advised that the “Access to Information (Bill) is not an absolute.” I happen to agree, but my reservations about the government’s version of freedom of information to the population on whose behalf they act, run deep.
Three years ago, at a Commonwealth Media Conference right in Guyana, I was exposed to all aspects of this type of legislation, including Trinidad and Tobago’s version. It all has to do with the public’s right to know. But know what? How much? When? You, we, do have a right to know about investments made in our name, about our representative’s earnings, assets and past behaviours, about budgetary allocations and those laws relevant to that spending or earning. But should we know the weaknesses of the GDF right now? Or what the President agreed to with Desi Bouterse? Or why the forests were leased to some Indian company? You decide, even as we are told of “A regime of legitimate exceptions”.
What I do know is that in a society such as ours, this will hardly qualify to be an election issue. When it should be!
1) Great that the “authorities” could charge two persons in the massive John Fernandes Wharf marijuana Bust recently. But tell me: would those two have such huge capital of their own to conduct such business?
2) Just when I thought same-sex marriage won’t concern African Americans, an openly gay Harlem NY Pastor Joseph Tolton, estimated that some ninety (90) percent of his congregation at his Rehoboth Temple are members of the GLBT community!
3) Repeated at a recent, lovely graduation: “The best way to predict the future is- to invent it!”
‘Til next week!