Topic

marriage equality

18 petitions

Update posted 1 week ago

Petition to The Bermuda Government

"Legalize Same Sex Marriage" and implement complete and full Human Rights for all Bermuda citizens & visitors.

Same-sex couples want to marry for all the same reasons as their opposite-sex counterparts.These reasons include: for legal security, to publicly celebrate their commitment, to provide greater legal protection for their children, or simply because they are in love. FIRST, we will look at the benefits that flow to same-sex couples who marry. This is followed by the wider social benefits that come from removing discrimination from the Marriage Act and ensuring equality for same-sex couples.******************************************************************************************SECOND, married partners have immediate access to all relationship entitlements, protections and responsibilities. This contrasts to de facto couples who must live together for a certain period before they are deemed to have legal rights.A marriage certificate also allows married partners to easily prove their legal rights if challenged, for example in emergency situations. The capacity to quickly and easily prove one’s relationship status is particularly important for same-sex partners because prejudice against same-sex relationships can mean legal rights are denied. ******************************************************************************************THIRD, allowing same-sex couples to be included in such a universal and valued institution as marriage will provide them and their families with real social and cultural benefits. Landmark research led by Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, describes and quantifies some of these benefits in two different places that have allowed same-sex marriages for several years, the Netherlands and Massachusetts.[ii] Badgett found that same-sex partners overwhelmingly, • felt marriage had increased their commitment and their sense of responsibility, and had generally strengthened their relationships • believed their children were better off after their marriage, chiefly through legal protection for those children and enhanced feelings of security, stability and acceptance in the children, and • felt participation and acceptance in their extended families and communities had increased because of their marriage Her conclusion was that, “Overall, the experiences of same-sex couples in two countries, the United States and the Netherlands, suggests that same-sex couples and their families are strengthened by a policy of marriage equality for same-sex couples.” There is also a growing body of research showing that married partners, including same-sex married partners, are, on average, healthier, happier and longer lived, than their cohabiting peers, or singles. According to the US Centre for Disease Control, even rates of heart disease, drug use and stress are lower among married partners. References:[ii] Badgett, M.V., N. Goldberg and C. Ramos, The Effects of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: A survey of the experiences and impact of marriage on same-sex couples. UCLA School of Law, 2009. Also, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage. New York University Press, 2009. *******************************************************************************************FOUR, Bermuda's ban on same-sex marriage doesn’t only disadvantage those same-sex partners who seek to marry. It disadvantages all same-sex attracted Bermudians, including those who are not in a relationship, or who would not marry, even if they could. It does this by treating them as legally unequal to their heterosexual counterparts, and by not allowing them the same life choices. Governments restrictions on who gay and lesbian Bermudians can marry violates their fundamental human rights in the same way the rights of Aboriginal Australians of African Americans were once violated by laws which prevented from marrying who they wished. The association between the equality in marriage and freedom from second-class status is well understood in the context of the struggle for the civil rights of people of color. In 1958, in the midst of the struggle for black civil rights in America, Martin Luther King Jr declared, “When any society says that I cannot marry a certain person, that society has cut off a segment of my freedom.” [iii] Consider all the other groups in society, along with people of color and same-sex attracted people, who at one time or another have been denied the right to marry the partner of their choice: women, people from differing faiths, people with disabilities. What they all have in common is that they have been regarded as too immature or irresponsible to make what is arguably the most important decision any individual can ever make, the choice of a life-long partner. In the same vein, the gradual acceptance that members of these groups are fully adult, fully citizens and fully human, has been accompanied by an acceptance of their right to marry whomever they wished. References:[iii] King (Jr), M. L., Carson, C., Luker, R., and Russell, P. A., (2000) The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr: Symbol of the movement, January 1957, University of California Press, Berkeley. Page 436.*****************************************************************************************FIVE, exclusion of same-sex attracted people from marriage also sends out the message that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is acceptable.The negative message sent out by discrimination in marriage foster prejudice, discrimination and unequal treatment against same-sex relationships in the wider community.While marriage equality will not remove all prejudice, discrimination and unequal treatment against same-sex attracted people, it will be an important step towards this goal.*****************************************************************************************SIX, Worst of all, Bermuda’s ban on same-sex marriages disadvantages same-sex attracted people by sending out the message that they are less capable of love and commitment than heterosexual people.It says their relationships are less stable, less resilient and of less value to the partners involved and their family and friends.These negative messages, plus the devaluation and discrimination already cited, have a profound impact on the health and well-being of same-sex attracted people and their families.See this link based on Australia: http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/AME-fact-health.pdfSame-sex attracted Bermudians are more likely to experience below-average health outcomes including higher levels of depression, due to this prejudice and discrimination. The statistics are particularly alarming for younger and newly-identifying LGBTI people who have consistently higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation, all directly related to the discrimination and prejudice they experience.[v] A number of researchers have shown there is a direct link between legal bans on same-sex marriage and higher levels of stress and anxiety, lower self esteem, and greater incidence of mental and physical health problems among same-sex attracted people.[vi] This has prompted the American Psychological Association to support marriage equality. It has also been confirmed by the University of Queensland study mentioned above. This study found that the more same-sex attracted people felt their relationships were valued in the same ways as opposite-sex relationships, the greater their sense of overall well-being. Because not allowing same-sex couples to marry disadvantages all same-sex attracted people by infringing their fundamental rights, fostering discrimination against them and impairing their physical and psychological health surveys have consistently shown that support for marriage equality among same-sex attracted people, including those who do not wish to marry, is as high as 80%. References:[v] For more on health risk in young people see “Writing Themselves in Again, the 2nd national report on the sexual health and wellbeing of same-sex attracted young people”, Australian Centre for Sex, Health and Society, http://www.glhv.org.au/files/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf[vi] Herdt, G., and R Kertner, “I Do, but I Can’t: The Impact of Marriage Denial on the Mental Health and Sexual Citizenship of Lesbians and Gay Men in the United States”, Journal of Research and Social Policy, March 2006, also, D., Hasin, et al, “The Impact of Institutional Discrimination on Psychiatric Disorders in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: A Prospective Study”, American Journal of Public Health, Jan 2010****************************************************************************************SEVEN, the debate on same-sex marriage often focuses on the benefits of equality for same-sex partners, but there are also benefits for marriage as a legal and cultural institution. Allowing same-sex couples to marry will admit many more couples who seek to uphold the core values of marriage and are enthusiastic for the institution. It will send out the message that marriage is defined by love and respect not prejudice and discrimination. It will also prompt opposite-sex couples to re-value wedlock as an institution in which the over-arching values are love, devotion, and not least, social inclusion. Allowing same-sex couples to marry will show that marriage is relevant and resilient enough to embrace changing social attitudes in the same way it did last century when married women were given legal equality and interracial marriages were allowed. Evidence that marriage equality uplifts marriage can be found in those places where the recognition of same-sex relationships has a relatively long history. In Scandinavia the formal recognition of same-sex relationships has been in place for a generation and same-sex marriage is now widely allowed. At the same time, marriage rates among heterosexual couples have increased by as much as 30% and divorce rates have gone down. Similarly, those US states that allow same-sex couples full marriage rights have the lowest rates of divorce among heterosexual partners (the state which has had marriage equality the longest, Massachusetts, has the lowest of all). A review of these examples published in The Wall Street Journal in 2006 agrees none of this is not a coincidence. “There is no evidence that allowing same-sex couples to marry weakens the institution. If anything, the numbers indicate the opposite”.[vii] References:[vii] Spedale, D. R., and William N. Eskridge Jr, W. N., “The Hitch”, Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2006. Reprinted at http://www.law.yale.edu/news/3708.htm*****************************************************************************************EIGHT, the legal and social benefits of marriage flow to the children of marrying couples as well as to the couples themselves.*****************************************************************************************NINE, enhancing religious freedom. Australian-based evangelical Baptist Pastor and marriage equality supporter, Rev Nathan Nettleton, puts it this way:“The doctrine of separation of church and state, for which some of my Baptist forebears endured violent persecution, teaches us firstly that it is a Christian duty to defend the right of others to follow their own conscience before God, free from coercive attempts to impose conformity of belief or practice; and secondly that the state should not privilege the convictions of any particular religious tradition, even a majority tradition, over the convictions of those who dissent from it.” Allowing same-sex couples to marry will enhance religious freedom in Bermuda. References:[ix] “Quakers call for legal recognition of same sex marriages”, Newsmaker, 11 Jan 2010, http://www.newsmaker.com.au/news/2189****************************************************************************************TEN, allowing same-sex couples to marry would be a financial boon for both the private sector and the Government of Bermuda.Marriage Equality & The Economy: http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/AME-fact-economy.pdf*****************************************************************************************ELEVEN, as the following list shows, the number of places overseas where same-sex couples are allowed to marry is not only increasing but accelerating:The Netherlands (2001)• Belgium (2003)• Canada (provincially beginning in 2003, nationally in 2005)• Massachusetts (2004)• Spain (2005)• South Africa (2006)• Connecticut (2008)• Iowa (2009)• Vermont (2009)• New Hampshire (2009)• Norway (2009)• Sweden (2009)• Mexico City (2009)• Argentina (2010)• US District of Columbia (2010)• Portugal (2010)• Iceland (2010)• New York state (US) (2011)WIKIPEDIAhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage*****************************************************************************************TWELVE, To address the practical legal problems faced by unmarried same-sex partners, some people advocate civil unions. (“Civil union” is a generic term that includes a registered partnership, a civil partnership, and all other recognized personal union). However, civil unions do not offer the same legal benefits as marriage, even when the law says they should. This is because they are not as widely understood or respected. Several recent reports into the operation of civil schemes in Europe and North America confirm that civil unions are not always recognized by hospitals, schools, insurers and even government officials. Lack of recognition is also a problem when civil union partners travel inter-state or internationally. But even if a  solution can be found to these practical problems, legal unions other than marriage do not give same-sex couples the same social and cultural recognition that comes with marriage. In the words of American marriage equality advocate, Beth Robinson, “nobody writes songs about civil unions”. Worse, according to the reports mentioned above civil unions may actually encourage discrimination against same-sex partners and downgrade the status of their relationships by entrenching a second-class status . Civil rights historians like Barbara Cox have drawn the parallel between civil unions and former “Jim Crow laws” in the American south. “…restricting same-sex couples to civil unions is reminiscent of the racism that relegated African-Americans to separate railroad cars and separate schools. Our society’s experiences with ‘separate and equal’ have shown that separation can never result in equality because the separation is based on a belief that a distance needs to be maintained between those in the privileged position and those placed in the inferior position.” Civil unions have not only not fulfilled their promise of equal rights and respect for same-sex couples, they appear to have made matters worse. Instead of eliminating discrimination they have entrenched it. Instead of removing stigma they have inflamed it. Instead of being a step towards full equality they are a step away. This is probably why same-sex couples consistently show they prefer marriage to other forms of legal recognition. In US states where both marriage and civil unions are available to same-sex couples the result is always a higher take-up rate for marriage.[xi]References:[xi] “Marriage, registration and dissolution by same-sex couples in the U.S.”, The Williams Institute, July 2008, http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/marriage-and-couples-rights/marriage-registration-and-dissolution-by-same-sex-couples-in-the-u-s/ *****************************************************************************************In preparing this petition I used this Australian source:http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/12-reasons-why-marriage-equality-matters/

Tony Brannon
3,836 supporters