Jamaica not insulated from the world, 'Martha Brae'

Letters to the Editor

Jamaica not insulated from the world, 'Martha Brae'

Monday, October 14, 2019

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Dear Editor,

I thank “Martha Brae” for his/her letter 'Don't vilify Jamaicans who disagree with gay marriage', which demonstrates why Montego Bay's mayor made a bad decision to ban the public forum on whether Jamaica is ready for same-sex marriage.

Firstly, I will urge “Martha” to reread Daniel's letter and mine to see which is truly vilifying. I daresay that while Daniel's inflammatory language will incite further violence against LGBT Jamaicans, I was urging temperance.

But the more substantive point in “Martha's” letter is a purported lack of evidence of the stability and sustainability of same-sex marriage and the well-being of children raised by same-sex parents. I have to respectfully disagree.

Same-sex unions have existed from time immemorial. In Africa ( https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-16871435) and North America ( https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/oct/11/two-spirit-people-north-america) there are records that ancient tribes recognised these unions. It was western colonisation that ended these practices. In the modern era, Denmark started legally recognising same-sex unions 30 years ago ( https://www.ibtimes.com/same-sex-unions-turn-30-denmark-2837055). This year I celebrated my eighth wedding anniversary to my husband, which is twice as long as my first opposite-sex marriage lasted ( http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Jamaican-gay-activist-marries-man-in-Canada).

A sad fact is that homophobia forces many gay Jamaican men to marry women as “masks” or “cures” for their homosexuality, which hurts the men, women and children in these “sham” unions. Legally recognising same-sex unions will help to end this harmful practice.

Secondly, the largest study on children raised by same-sex parents showed that the children actually performed better than those raised in opposite-sex households. This may be because same-sex couples have to work harder to have kids, so they are treasured and cared for more. ( https://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/children-same-sex-parents-are-healthier-study-n149901) This study has been confirmed in many other settings. An interesting observation is that same-sex couples mostly raise “unwanted” kids who are discarded by heterosexual pairings. Because we know what it is like to be abandoned, LGBT people prefer to adopt abandoned children and provide a home for those languishing in State care. Infertile straight couples utilise surrogacy (“rent-a-womb”) far more than gays.

As “Martha” well knows, Jamaica is not insulated from the world, and marriage equality and same-sex parenting are already here through our biggest foreign exchange earner, tourism. And many LGBT Jamaicans are already in same-sex unions and raising kids.

We can't stick our heads in the sand. We must prepare the public by hearing and airing the concerns of all stakeholders. The mayor of Montego Bay should therefore allow this dialogue to take place at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.

Maurice Tomlinson

Founder and Development Coordinator

Montego Bay Pride

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