By Simone Delochan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Religious leaders advocating for the preservation of the institution of marriage as between a biological man and biological woman said their stance is not discriminatory nor are they supporting violence against any members of the LGBTQIA community.
“Asking for what we are asking doesn’t mean that we are asking for anyone to be less than a human being or less than a person who deserves respect. Any human being has the innate dignity of God and spark of the Divine….This is not a campaign against anyone. This is a campaign for truth, for right, for what is traditionally understood by marriage….This is a campaign for life,” Archbishop Jason Gordon said last Monday at Archbishop’s House.
He was responding to a question from a member of the media at the launch of a campaign in which leaders of the Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths united in protection of the sacredness of marriage, the support of truth and to remind of the sovereignty of T&T.
In initial presentations to the media, each representative: Yacoob Ali and Mufti Asrarul Haque of the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association; Satnarayan Maharaj of Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha; President of the Council of Trinidad and Tobago Evangelical Churches Desmond Austin; Rev Winston Mansingh of the Faith-based Network; Archbishop Gordon; and Pastor Clive Dottin, expressed their faith’s support for the propositions on the agenda and in so doing emphasised the sanctity of the traditional marriage structure.
The two issues on the table for which a statement will be prepared for Parliament in September are: There must be no amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act to accommodate LGBTQIA issues; and there must be an amendment to the marriage act which entrenches marriage as a union of a biological male and a biological female. Gregory Lalbeharrie of ReformTT who facilitated the press conference, added that the amendment must be passed by a special majority in Parliament.
That marriage was the cornerstone of society was the point of commonality among the various faiths, as well as the procreative function of the family. Pastor Clive Dottin, via a WhatsApp voice call, said, “We believe central to the critical development of any society….[is] the traditional family and the values that go along with it.”
Pastor Dottin admitted that the faiths may have “dropped the ball” in protecting the family unit, but this was now a wake-up call, “for all of us, the internalising of values, of how we transmit these values to the young people, the issues of paying attention to the agencies of socialisation: the home, the Church and school.”
Marriage, explained Archbishop Gordon, “Is a sacrament; is a covenant; is a relationship between God and us…Marriage is the loadbearing wall of civilisation. It is what holds the whole civilisation up. You take the loadbearing wall down, the whole civilisation comes down with it.”
Male and female, he commented, were created in complementarity with each other, and the union of male and female in marriage provided the essential space for the sacred functionality of the procreation of children.
On the issue of gender fluidity, he stressed that there was no biological foundation to the notion and it was a “series of ideas, and the further along it goes, more genders keep getting thrown up into the equation”. He said this was made manifest in what began as LGBT but which now includes other categories: A (asexual), I (intersexual/interrogating). Rev Mansingh later listed the emerging subsets of the ‘trans’ world: transethnic; transable; transgender; transage.
The truth is that children are born either male or female, as evidenced by the human body. Archbishop Gordon continued, “It’s a matter of biological fact. A woman’s body and a man’s body are fundamentally different and you have an XX chromosome or XY chromosome in your body…once you open it [gender] to fluidity” there is no longer an objective measure of what constitutes gender and it “will proliferate over and over again, because it is nothing based in reality”.
Archbishop Gordon was concerned about the global impetus which can threaten the sovereignty of the island states because when “America sneezes, the whole of the Caribbean catches pneumonia”. He called for reflection rather than a mimicked adoption of the ideology of gender fluidity.
The country needed to assess the issues and challenges brought to other nations that have altered policies to suit, and understand what type of country Trinidad and Tobago should become. “We have reached the stage where we have to take ownership of ourselves as a nation…” he said.
In a telephone interview with the Catholic News last Wednesday, responding to the backlash and accusations of the faith leaders’ inciting of hate, the archbishop said it was possible to hold both love and truth without compromising truth. “The Christian is called to love, to welcome, to be merciful and to embrace but we are also called to truth and to live a life of truth. Because we don’t agree doesn’t mean that we do not respect the dignity of the person.” He is open to dialogue with members of the LGBTQIA community.
Archbishop Gordon last Friday held a ‘Conversation with Archbishop J’ at Our Lady of Fatima RC Church, Curepe at which same-sex unions were discussed.