Ninth District Candidates in the upcoming elections shared differing opinions regarding the issue of same-sex marriage, a hot topic for which a referendum has been promised.
During the ‘Great Debate’ hosted on Virgin Gorda on April 14, 2023, the candidates were asked if they think the Virgin Islands should legalise same-sex marriage and to give reasons for their responses.
‘We’ll live by that Bible’- Vernon Vanterpool
Independent Candidate Vernon Vanterpool was very firm and rigid in his response that he was completely against same-sex marriage.
“I personally would not accept it. No way, no how, don’t care how you bring it. We have grown up in a society, a Christian society for decades and hundreds of years and that Bible is our yardstick, and I am sticking to it. We’ll live by that Bible and no one should be able to impose this on us…wrong is wrong. Our standards is biblical and we’ll stick by it,” he noted.
Hon Shereen D. Flax- Charles believes a referendum on same-sex marriage is the best choice and not the court system.
‘Referendum is the best choice’- Hon Flax-Charles
However, Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) Candidate Hon Shereen D. Flax- Charles said this is a very tough decision for persons to make, although she explained that she too grew up in a Christian community and has been exposed to many different types of people.
Hon Flax- Charles further stated her opinion that a referendum is the best choice and not the court system.
“While my belief is that a marriage between a man and a woman is sacred, I believe that a referendum by the people should be had and a court should not be deciding how we move forward. Many years ago we used to have a ship coming and all of the persons on that ship were gay. No other island wanted to take them but Virgin Gorda…Virgin Gordians are very hospitable and we decided to take them here. And you know what? They enjoyed themselves, they were respectful of our culture as well.
“At the end of the day, we are in the tourism business and they’re here amongst us all the time. Persons need to be able to make a choice and by way of a referendum the people of the BVI will have a say and the majority will rule. We are a capitalist country, we are a democracy and we should not allow anyone to tell us how a particular decision should be made. We should be making that decision and I have to respect everyone’s choice whether its to marry the same sex…smoke marijuana, which is illegal- but persons have a choice,” Flax- Charles said.
‘I believe in mutual respect for people’- Coy W. Levons
Meanwhile, National Democratic Party (NDP) Candidate Coy W. Levons said the answer to the question lies in the constitution and that people’s choices should be respected.
“Every individual has a fundamental right to make a choice, and while we live in a Christian society, you cannot bar an individual from exercising the choice that he or she choose to make…we as a society need to understand that we are living in a multi-cultural facet society, and while we are predominantly Christian, because I am a Christian, the purpose of a Christian is to accept people for who them is. So, I honestly want to draw my line down the middle because I believe in mutual respect for people…,” he said.
Ninth District Candidates in the upcoming
elections shared differing opinions regarding the issue of same-sex
marriage, a hot topic for which a referendum has been promised.
It's about property inheritance! Hon Vincent O. Wheatley
Additionally, Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Candidate Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9), pointed to a need for a better understanding of what same-sex marriage means, noting that it is designed for a partner to inherit the other’s property and not to legalise sex.
“I think sometimes when we hear about same- sex marriage, we only hear the ‘sex’ part. Same- sex marriage is not designed to condone sex between two male and two female. There’s a moral aspect of it and the moral aspect says whatever your religion dictates you do. I’m a Christian so I would not be marrying a man or condone a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman. What same-sex marriage does, it allows a partner, when he or she dies, to leave their belongings to the person they are affectionate with,” he said.
Hon Wheatley also opined that the law will not affect the practice of homosexuality but the inheritance of property.
He said as a Christian he believes people should have a right to choose to do whatever they want but marriage should be between a man and a woman.