It's no secret that South Florida is a melting pot of Caribbean, and Latin American people via extension of the Cuban migrants. Caribbean people and Latin American's are somewhat socially conservative, holding on vigorously to their religion with most of their inner fibre. This is what makes the embrace of the homosexual movement, in South Florida in particular, so incredibly fascinating and interesting as it relates to Caribbean and Latin American people.
What does all of this mean for Caribbean countries looking at the same homosexual rights issue? I'm not sure we can say with any significance that it would mean a great deal for Caribbean people in the Caribbean territories. Even though if you were to throw a rock in a crowded room in any Caribbean country, you would hit someone that has either visited South Florida, has a close relative that lives in South Florida, or has dual citizenship with strong ties in South Florida.
So South Floridian ties and respect for and with the people of the Caribbean is clear. Clear on both sides. We love our Miami. We identify with American and share values with our brothers and sisters in South Florida. Yes, we do. In fact, we have a saying in The Bahamas: "Bahamians have an inalienable right to learn how to read, write and visit Miami twice a year." It is our "right"!
Be that as it may: How soon would places in the Caribbean begin to embrace homosexuality and same sex marriage? This is a very good question.
A snapshot of what issues surrounding even the mere notion of providing any Launchpad for homosexual marriage has and is taking place in The Bahamas. To be quite frank: The initiative of homosexual marriage, at this time, would probably sink faster than a one hundred pound bucket of cement in shallow water.
The issue of homosexual marriage came out as a result of a proposed Referendum that initially had nothing to do about homosexual marriage, at all. But because it was perceived to be paving the way for the introduction of homosexual marriage at a later date, it torpedoed all of the other merits that was presented in that Referendum. Here are the proposed Bills:
Bill # 1 seeks to give a child born outside The Bahamas to a Bahamian-born mother and non-Bahamian father the same automatic right to Bahamian citizenship.
Bill #2 also seeks to achieve gender equality in another respect under the Constitution: It seeks to enable a Bahamian woman who marries a foreign man to secure for him the same access to Bahamian citizenship.
Bill #3 seeks to make provisions for an unwed Bahamian father to pass his citizenship to a child born to a foreign woman.
Bill #4 seeks to end discrimination based on sex. This involves the insertion of the word “sex” in Article 26 of the Constitution so as to make it unconstitutional to discriminate based on whether someone is male or female.
Even a remotely controversial Bill #2, which sought to smooth immigration issues for foreign born males married to Bahamian women, was met with some resistance, but a small majority of people came to the understanding in due time that in reality it did not extend to making naturalized citizens of foreign born males in perpetuity. Or so what we were led that it would not be.
More startlingly however, what transpired with regard to the promotion and public education on these bills was something fierce at its midway point. Something utterly shameful and embarrassing on many levels.
Bill #4, instead of being seen as a general application of the removal of gender discrimination, turned into a proxy war on gay marriage and thus devolved into an assault on homosexuals in general.
Homosexual-equality proponents initially championed Bill#4 as the beginning of removing the legal constructs that bound them from being honest citizens in The Bahamas, and thus paving the way for equal and fair treatment and the enabling of rights with regard to social justice and marriage. From the moment their lobby made mere mention that it helped their cause, persons became livid.
The Church went on high alert! Condemning the constitutional commission responsible for drafting the Bills along with the players in the background for this backdoor gay-marriage push in to our social living and consciousness.
Those not "Churched" and simply opposed to homosexuals on any and every level took it to the tenth level and used it as a platform to spew their homophobic rants and hatred towards gays. It was quite troubling to see so many well respected, and seemingly level headed people, just turn hot-red with anger, vitriol, hate and spite.
The opposition political party needed to do nothing at all. That's how bad it was.
Personally, I don't care if gays were to all jump up and get married today, or never marry ever again, ever, ever, ever. I'm aware of the social issues and religious underpinnings that we have as a society in The Bahamas, and won't drag myself into a religious or moral debate on the matter because we all have our views on how we interpret Christian principles. However, I'm not a homophobe either. Because the reality is that discrimination based on gender, gender appearance, sex and sexual preference, is what it is: Discrimination.
I always ask persons spewing the usual homophobic rhetoric: Are you aware of how many homosexuals are in your midst? Can you be certain of how many people in your own family and friendship circles are heterosexual? How many gays cut, you your family members and your friends cheques? How many gays run successful businesses? How many homosexuals you watch on television and enjoy their art forms, whether film or music? How many persons in the public service, from politicians to team-leaders that are living homosexual lifestyles? The real answers to all of these questions would stagger you.
So, for The Bahamas at least, an extension of rights or even the expansion of the tolerance of homosexuality, is not something we would see any time soon based on these recent events. A political party, at this time, would introduce it at their own risk.
Even though homosexual activity was legalized for persons practicing in private quarters as per the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act., 1991, with the age of consent for homosexual activity being 18 years of age, taking the next steps won't be anytime soon.
In a nutshell: The homosexuals are coming. Coming hard too, particularly in American and European countries. How far they get in the Caribbean territories, and not trying to speak for all Caribbean countries, is something else all together.