Same Sex Marriage

EVER since same-sex marriages were deemed legal by the United States Supreme Court last Friday, the elephant-in-the-room question circulating in Saint Lucia is whether the domino effect will actually materialise.

Five of the Supreme Court’s nine justices ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law connote that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. In effect, same-sex marriages will now be made legal in all fifty states of America.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes on the heels of increasing pressure from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to be given the right to marry whom they please. Their calls came amidst staunch opposition from Christian conservatives who believe that allowing same-sex couples to marry is a “watering-down” of the moral fabric of family and society.

Between 1996 and 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama has gone on record flip-flopping on his position of the subject; from opposing same-sex marriage to admitting that he was “misguided” about his opposition to it. That all changed on May 12, 2012 when U.S. news outlet, ABC, aired an interview in which Obama unequivocally declared his support for the right for same-sex couples to marry. Since then, his support for same-sex marriage has been constant.

Here in Saint Lucia, the LGBT community has been pushing for many rights, including the right to be treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation, and easy access to services to which all Saint Lucians should be entitled. But with an anti-buggery law still on local law books, the LGBT community feels it is being rubbed the wrong way.

A key spoke in the wheel of the same-sex discussion here is whether local politicians will be inclined to cower to external pressure and legalize same-sex marriage here to boost the local tourism industry. With Saint Lucia being an award-winning honeymoon destination of choice many times over, the new push for some time now has been to capitalize on the weddings market which can attract more service providers and dollars to the island.

With the majority of Saint Lucians identifying themselves with one religious denomination or another, it remains to be seen whether international precedent, economic prospects or local pressure – or a combination of any of the three – forces local politicians to either maintain the status quo or overturn the apple cart. Undoubtedly, however, keeping the current system — or changing it – will obviously come with its inherent share of criticism from any aggrieved cluster of Saint Lucians.

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