Jamaican Pastor: I’d rather die than officiate a same-sex wedding

(Jamaica Gleaner) Three prominent local ministers of religion who are marriage officers have made it clear that they have no intention of performing any such ceremony, should Jamaica head down the path the Cayman Islands seems headed.

In a March ruling, which many believe could impact the wider region, Cayman’s chief justice, Jamaica-born Anthony Smellie, ruled that same-sex marriage could legally take place in the British Overseas Territory. Once a dependency of Jamaica, the Cayman Islands came under direct British rule after Jamaica declared Independence in 1962. The Cayman Islands still has strong ties to Jamaica, with many churches in the two countries linked under one umbrella group.

A Court of Appeal yesterday halted any such planned marriage pending an appeal of the chief justice’s ruling.

Speaking with The Gleaner, the Reverend Junior Rutty, pastor at Agape Christian Fellowship in Falmouth, Trelawny; the Reverend Norva Rodney, the incoming president of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU); and the Reverend Davewin Thomas, of the Burchell Baptist Circuit in Montego Bay, all said an emphatic “no,” when asked if they would officiate a same-sex wedding.

The Reverend Karen Kirlew, the first female president of the 169-year-old Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU), was non-committal, laughing heartily when the question was posed to her but nonetheless declined to give a response.

“The Bible speaks of man and woman, not groups, so in relation to marriage, I am following the Bible. I will not be officiating in any same-sex marriage,” said Rutty, in explaining his stance, should Jamaica decide to allow same-sex amrriages in the future. “If it means losing my [marriage] licence, they can have it.”

Rodney, who made it clear that she was speaking for herself and not the church, said she would rather give up her life than to participate in something she says go against her Christian principles.

“I am not speaking on behalf of the JBU,” Rodney emphasised. “For me, if it means that it’s a choice between life and death for me to officiate at one such wedding, then I am dead.”

Stating thet he is not one to embrace discrimination, Thomas says he is not of the persuasion to conduct such a ceremony.

“As a Christian, I would not want to be considered discriminatory, but my body is not ready to officiate at that kind of event,” Thomas told The Gleaner.

In May 2015, it was revealed at the United Nations that, “a proposals to legalise same-sex marriages did not enjoy Jamaica’s support”.

Section 61 of the Offence against the Person Act (1864) in Jamaica, criminalises the “abominable” anal sex – consensual or otherwise. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

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