The surprise news of a marriage on the weekend by the council member from the Jamaica Labour Party who earlier this year was accused of same sex activity is also leaving questions in the minds of a few, why marry now? was he under pressure from the party’s hierarchy as is believed to “straighten up” his public image following the damning accusations? There is never a dull day in the life of Jamaican politics"
Or, perhaps it is that Mr Golding has changed his mind since his May 2008 “not in my Cabinet” remark to a BBC interviewer about the capacity of homosexuals to serve in Jamaican governments.
Mr Golding’s homophobic bigotry, of course, was largely a populist play to the political gallery – a cheap and easy grab for votes that would tax neither leadership nor the imagination.
By now, however, Mr Golding, and the administration more broadly, must be aware that such declarations as the prime minister’s, giving legitimacy to anti-gay discrimination, not only fly in the face of the respect for human rights, but have negative social and economic impact on communities and run counter to the direction of progressive societies.
Division with New york
New York, the city and the state, are places to which many Jamaicans would like to emigrate, as several thousands do every year. Indeed, tens of thousands of Jamaicans live in the state. Last month, the New York state legislature, with the backing of the governor, Andrew Cuomo, who is married with two daughters, passed a bill approving same-sex marriage in the state.
New York, in the process, joined six other states – Iowa, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, DC – that allow same-sex marriages. Significantly, with New York’s population of 19 million, its law more than doubled to 35 million the number of Americans who live in states that recognise such marriages. Additionally, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and Rhode Island recognise civil unions between gay couples.
Such moves not only expand the right of individuals, but have other benefits, such as the estimate by many informed observers that New York’s decision will lead to the inflow of upwards of US$400 million of business to that state.
Ja losing out
It is attracting this kind of economic activity that Jamaica has limited, if not proscribed by the global projection of its homophobic stance. For instance, in the United States the buying power of the gay community is estimated at US$743 billion. And gays tend to have a greater capacity of discretionary spending. Few, for instance, have children to support, which means, calculating based on a singular child, around US$20,000 a year of discretionary cash.
In that regard, gays are in a better position than heterosexual couples to spend on leisure, including on travel, which can benefit tourist economies such as our own. It is not surprising that American businesses are now openly targeting the gay community, such as the the wealth-management podcasts and symposiums promoted by the investment bankers Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
For Jamaica to attract some of this wealth, people have to be assured of a greater level of tolerance, especially from the Jamaican state. In that context, archaic laws, like the one against buggery, have to be repealed.
But as we noted before, this is not purely an economic issue, but respect for individuals’ rights, which is what the Obama administration recognises with its repeal of the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ stipulation for gays entering the military, and in ending its defence at the federal level of the Defence of Marriage Act.
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Pro-Gay Not Same As Pro-Progress
I feel compelled to give my opinion on yesterday's Gleaner editorial on the issue of homophobia in Jamaica, and the repealing of laws against buggery.
If Jamaica considers itself a Christian society, then homosexuality is indeed a moral issue, and must continue to be frowned upon and not embraced here.
Jamaica is an independent country and we do not need to be copycats of what First World nations are doing to become developed. If we stand by the doctrines of the Bible, we need to be steadfast. It takes one to make a change in the right direction.
Personally, I do not care how many developed countries want to embrace homosexuality for the sake of their economy. I look at it the same way I would see a woman who decides that she is so much in need of money that she will put her morals and values on the shelf, and embrace prostitution so that she can relieve her financial burden. Does that make her actions right?
There are many aspects of development, and we as a nation need to stand on our own two feet and decide what we will venture into. The Muslim nations stick to their principles, so what are we afraid of?
These developed countries have become so secularised and demoralised because the world has lost all values and morals, and we have become too accommodating.
I love that Jamaica has stood up to the trials and temptations of legalising buggery and validating homosexuality, as rampant as it may be in our society, and with all the threats to our benefits.
We do not have to follow other countries to be noticed. We make our own mark and should continue to do so by being different. Kudos to Jamaica and all those who speak out against the legalisation of buggery.