WE WONDER what background checks, if any, Prime Minister Bruce Golding caused to be conducted on the members of his new Cabinet, and whether prospective ministers were required to provide the PM with any assurances about their lifestyles.
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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My two cents
This article seems timely as the Jamaica Labour Party is regaining momentum following the Manatt issues and the protracted wage negotiations that at one point looked as if they were about to be the ruin of the party now all seems clearer, a reshuffled cabinet but a disgruntled former Minister and General Secretary of the party who had crossed the floor before question is will he cross again? Meanwhile the opposition PNP has its set of issues where a Sharon Hay Webster may very well be courted to cross the floor as well given her recent resignation due to the dual citizenship matter that she is being blamed for the recent fall in ratings of the party. She did not disclose earlier that she was a US born politician.
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
Is this a pink jab well orchestrated by the contacts in media with the advocates that we are not privy to or a real concern for rights based issues for LGBT people? although the paper has given space to tolerance issues etc but if we are to speak on such issues there has to be some ethical and moral footing on which to stand, not some timely article to play into the political fortunes or misfortunes of the day in order to bring in another party to power, a party by the way that has a greater LGBT support but has sided with the governing party and the anti gay Lawyers’s Christian Fellowship conveniently to avoid been seen as supporting battyism and playing to popular public sentiments. Should we really vote for these two parties or take the lesser of the evils and push harder?
Interesting times lie ahead friends
Also see the “LINE IN THE SAND series found exclusively on my sister blog GAY Jamaica Watch on blogger
Here is an example of the pounding the “Driva” has been getting from sections of the media
Peace and tolerance