Clinton Pickering – Freelance Writer
The controversial issue between the St. James Municipal Corporation and the gay group, MoBay Pride, over its right to use the Montego Bay Cultural Centre to promote debate on same-sex marriage, is gearing up to be a legal humdinger.
Even as support of the church grows for Mayor Homer Davis and the Municipal Corporation in their stance opposing use of the Centre, the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of MoBay Pride being granted permission and for the group to pursue its case for a Judicial Review.
But, following that ruling on Monday, Mayor Davis informed that the Municipal Corporation’s lawyers had been instructed to pursue the matter to the Court of Appeal.
It was only on Sunday that Davis and the municipal corporation received more support from the church community following the decision taken just over a month ago to bar MoBay Pride from using the Cultural Centre to spread its message.
That support came at the Heritage Week thanksgiving service at the Glendevon New Testament Church of God with the theme, “Our Heritage… A Great Legacy.” It provided a platform for host pastor, Bishop R.T. Powell, and members of his congregation, to voice their support for the stand against MoBay Pride.
As the pastor delivered his sermon, female members of the congregation applauded vociferously when he referred to the Biblical story of the creation of man and woman, and openly voiced that “God ade Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Bishop Powell lashed out against any move to legislate same-sex marriage in Jamaica, declaring that as a marriage officer, he would not hesitate to turn in his license should that happen. “It no need no legislation,” he said, as the Bible already dictates that marriage should be between a man and woman. “When the question is being raised, somebody needs to get up in Parliament, somebody needs to stand up like His Worship the Mayor; I am not giving you the public building to have your meeting. Yu want yu meeting, go a seaside,” he declared to congregational approval.
The pastor said they were prepared to uphold the principles of the word of Almighty God and the nation must set its priorities in order.
It was only on Thursday at the municipal corporation’s regular monthly meeting that Chairman of the St James Minister’s Fraternal, Pastor Peter Burnett also gave public support to barring the gay rights group on similar grounds.
In his greetings at the heritage services, Mayor Davis referred to the fact that “our parish and indeed the city of Montego Bay have a rich history, one that we must celebrate and protect.” He was greeted with loud applause when he went on to say that the city “at this time is going through a challenging time,” and had been taken to court over activity “that does not belong in the heart of the city” and for which there was unanimous support in the council.
Mayor Davis thanked the church for its widespread support.
The Heritage Week message by the Opposition Leader was read by new parliamentary aspirant, Senator Dr Andre Haughton, while that of the Prime Minister was presented by Member of Parliament Heroy Clarke and the Governor-General’s message read by President of the Lay Magistrates’ Association, St James Chapter, Edgerton Forrester, representing the office of the Custos of St James.
Chairman of the Municipal Corporation’s Civic and Community Affairs Committee, Dwight Crawford, read the scripture lesson and vice chairman, Richard Crawford, presented a love gift to the church.
JCDC gold medalist Trishana Grant was a no-show for the special item she should have presented, but the congregation was graced with the presence of reigning St James Festival Queen, the elegantly attired Chardonnae Parkins.
The service was supported by other Justices of the Peace, councillors and staff of the municipal corporation, the Jamaica Police and Defence Forces, Jamaica Fire Brigade and representatives of other community organizations.