Two men write history in MarigotPOSTED: 10/14/13 12:23 PM
MARIGOT, St. Martin – Two men wrote history on Saturday when they got married by first vice-President Guillaume Arnell at the Hotel de la Collectivité – registering the first same-sex marriage ever in Saint Martin. The French senate legalized marriages between couples of the same gender in May, in spite of protests in France as well as in Saint Martin. The territorial council even adopted a motion against the marriage-law in April that senator Louis Constant Fleming presented to no avail in Paris.
The couple that married on Saturday will not easily forget the day they tied the knot. The Hotel de la Collectivité was heavily guarded by members of the gendarmerie. Outside, a mix of supporters, curious onlookers and religious zealots withstood the heat for almost two hours. Some protesters carried placards expressing their stance on marriage for all, while an out of control Rasta kept screaming abuse.
The feisty crowd that was waiting for the couple to leave the Hotel de la Collectivité acted at times like a bunch of kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As soon as someone suggested that the two men would come out of the building at the rue V. Maurasse (from the rear exit of the building) hordes of screaming protesters left their station at the Rue de l’Hotel de Ville to race to the other side.
Close to twelve o’clock the newlyweds emerged from the main entrance of the building and this threw the crowd again in a frenzy. The two men smiled and waved at the crowd before getting in a waiting car that was for security reasons surrounded by gendarmes.
The crowd pushed forward and a beer bottle and a rock sailed through the air, without hitting anybody. When the couple’s car drove away, protesters managed to hammer on the vehicle’s roof, but in general the gendarmerie kept the situation under control.
Protesters were vocal though throughout the event. “No same sex, take that back to Europe, we don’t want that! This is not Barbados, stop crossing the land,” a man with bloodshot eyes shouted.
Directly passing in front of him was a petite woman, armed with a placard and Bible, in silent protest. The words on the placard referenced Leviticus 20:13 in the Bible, stating that for two men to “lie” together is an abomination.
“Arnell, you are nasty too because you allow it. You could have resigned and the people would have backed you but you allow it. This is nastiness, judgment coming to our land,” another man screamed.
A teenager on a scooter kept up one mantra for close to half hour: “They should have legalized marijuana but not homosexuality. That is worse than marijuana. There will be a massive earthquake here because of this abomination.”
Gospel artist and radio personality Piper Luandry and the controversial Rastafarian Mystic were among those who strongly expressed their objections. But when everything was said and done, the religiously infatuated protesters got a taste of their own medicine on Facebook where scores of people posted messages supporting freedom of choice.
While same sex marriage is legal in France and in all of its overseas territories, it is not legal in Dutch Sint Maarten. In the Netherlands the debate about same sex marriage started in 1969. It took another twenty years before Gerard Kuipers and Frans Stello started a trial to test the law. The court ruled at the time “nowhere in the law does it state that marriage is meant solely for a man and a woman but all the same the legislator did design marriage for a man and a woman.”
On April 1, 2001 the Netherlands legalized marriage for couples of the same sex, by adding the following article to the civil code: “A marriage can be entered into by people of different or equal gender.” The Netherlands was the first country in the world to allow marriage for all.
Saint Martin falls under French law and thus has to abide by those rules. Dutch Sint Maaten has control over its own civil code. As long as there is no political majority that supports marriage for all, it won’t happen in Philipsburg. However, the census office is obliged to recognize these marriages. A same-sex couple that marries in Saba or in the Netherlands and then moves to St. Maarten must be registered as married and is entitled to all the benefits that befall a heterosexual married couple.