Published On: Thu, Dec 8th, 2022

Freedom of choice

By Hilbert Haar

The Common Court of Justice has ordered Aruba and Curacao to allow marriages between partners of the same sex. That order had not gone into effect yet, because both countries could appeal the ruling at the Supreme Court. Would that change anything? Damn good question.

Freedom of choice is a fundamental principle in constitutional states. We have freedom of religion. Freedom of education. Freedom of association. Freedom of speech. And so on.

But countries that make it impossible for its citizens to marry the person of their choice are somehow still living in the dark ages. The objections against same-sex marriages come, traditionally, from religious corners.

Up to a point, I can understand that. After all we have freedom of expression, and therefore freedom of opinion in our country. We are allowed, taking some legal restrictions into account, to say and write whatever the hell we want. There is no law saying that you cannot oppose same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex-marriage do not have my sympathy but they are entitled to their opinion.

However, if those opponents make it impossible for others to make their own choices, for instance by marrying someone of the same sex, they cross a line that I find unacceptable.

I wrote this already years ago: freedom stops where it intrudes upon the freedom of others. People are free to believe that some guy they never met was able to walk on water, or to turn five pieces of bread and two fish into an unforgettable lunch for 5,000 people. The thing is: you don’t have to believe these fairytales. Feel free. Knock yourself out. You know?

Here is another useful observation. If you disapprove of marriage between people of the same sex, there is a simple solution: do not marry somebody of the same sex and leave people with a different approach alone.

But no. That is too much to ask from people who continue to believe in fairytales. In this sense, I have a lot of respect for Wycliffe Smith, the founder of the St. Maarten Christian Party. Given his background, he does not support same-sex marriage. He once told me that, if the parliament wanted to legislate such marriages, he would obviously vote against. But he would respect the ultimate decision.

What does that tell you? That you can stay true to your own beliefs and at the same time show respect for others who happen to have a different approach to life. Chapeau.

Will the court rulings that now affect Aruba and Curacao also have consequences for St. Maarten? Another damn good question.

Fact: the constitutions of all three countries are similar. They all prohibit discrimination on any grounds. Will somebody in the government (or the parliament) take pro-active action and say something like: hey, let’s save us the shame of a court case and do voluntarily what the court has ordered Aruba and Curacao to do? I doubt it, because our politicians have always been very good at ignoring reality.

But that same-sex marriages will become legal in St. Maarten sooner or later is inevitable. Like with hurricanes, it only takes one. One court case.


Related article: Court orders Aruba and Curacao to allow same-sex marriages