After discussing the fact that marriages in Jamaica have fallen by 21% and that nearly 80% of births on the island are out of wedlock and that a majority of children have no father's name on their birth certificate, the editorial continues:
HYPOCRISYWe draw attention to these statistics neither to ridicule nor undermine marriage, for this newspaper appreciates its potential as an institution of social stability and respect its centrality to Christian and other religious ideologies. But by taking the marriage to its contractual core, it bares the persistence of hypocritical and anachronistic attitudes that perpetuate discrimination.
In Jamaica's case, we refer to Section 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, thereby ruling out the possibility of formal recognition of same-sex relationships. It is a provision that has its foundation in a deep-seated, if slowly receding, homophobia that has caused us to maintain the buggery provisions, which, essentially, criminalise male homosexuality and allows the State the role of commissar of sexual preferences and to invade the privacy of people's bedrooms. It matters nought that the power is little used; its existence is chilling.
INEQUALITYFurther, it is unassailable logic that Section 28 represents an assault on the principle of equality of people; people's right to forge relationships, especially when the exercise of those rights does not impinge on the rights of others; and their right to equal protection under the law. Indeed, a denial of these human rights is also an attack on the dignity of individuals who are prevented from the public expression of the powerful human emotion of love within the sanctity of marriage, although same-sex couples could well give the institution a shot in the arm.
The religionists and churches who are not willing to embrace same-sex marriages, but who already co-exist in a morally plural society, need not fear that they may have to compromise their ideologies. While civil registers are not so precluded, ministers of religions who are marriage officers are exempt, at Section 8 of the Marriage Act, from performing weddings that are contrary to the rules of their denominations.Good news!