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USVI, Jamaica march for same cause - Virgin Islanders to protest proposed bill to support gay marriage

Published:Sunday | August 24, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Thousands of Jamaicans participating in the march, which is to be copied by a group in the United States Virgin Islands. - File

Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter

The mass rally staged by the local Christian group, Jamaica Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation (CAUSE) on June 29, has prompted Christians in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) to plan a similar march for today.

The local rally, which saw approximately 25,000 people converge on Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, was staged in protest against what the organisers called a growing threat to fundamental rights and freedoms.

Having seen the massive support in Jamaica, the Christians in the USVI hope to replicate this success.

"We applaud the people of Jamaica for coming out and taking a stand. We used the Jamaican march as a catalyst to encourage people to come out, because we said, 'Look, Jamaica got close to 25,000 people to come out in support of the traditional family against same-sex marriage'," said Alger Warren, vice-chair of One Voice Virgin Islands (OVVI) and pastor of Faith Christian Fellowship Church Alive in Christ in the USVI.

"So we did reference the march in Jamaica and continue to reference it, so hopefully, that will inspire people to even come out for our march also."

The USVI group was spurred to act following the proposal of a bill by a female senator from St Croix, which would, in essence, change the definition of marriage to mean a legal union between two people, regardless of gender.

Pro-family march

"It will be a pro-family march from 4 p.m. and then there will be a peace concert at 5 p.m.," said Harriet Mercer, a member of the petition committee of OVVI.

"The aim of this march is to bring to the attention of all the politicians and those in power and leadership here that, like Jamaica, we too are against any kind of buggery being legalised."

Mercer added: "We are firmly against it. We have enough that is not legal, some of it being done in [front of] your eyes. We have cruise ships that come here and the people do things in front of our children on the beaches and we are not going to allow and stand for that to be legal."

The march is scheduled to be staged from Addelita Cancryn Junior High School to Emancipation Garden in Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas, today, after being moved from July 24.

According to Warren: "We just decided to reschedule to give more people time to get on board."

Said Julia Jean-Baptiste, events coordinator at OVVI: "The president, vice-president, many other pastors, and members of OVVI have worked hard to make this event a success. We will have chants and praise and worship as we stand in agreement with other organisations on the biblical stand of marriage."

Added Baptiste: "Our prayer committee has (done) and continues to do an awesome job on a daily and weekly basis of lifting this organisation, members, and events up in prayer. We know this march will be to the glory of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ."

Stamp of approval

Reacting to the news of the USVI march, the Reverend Dr Stevenson Samuels, chairman of Jamaica CAUSE, gave his organisation's stamp of approval.

"We are extremely elated that other Caribbean countries are standing in support of what we are doing, and it really is just a testimony that there are countries with a large number of persons who have a concern for the well-being of their country," said Samuels.

"It is not just the US Virgin Islands; there are persons from other countries that have contacted us expressing their support and also their desire of doing something similar.

"We consider them (USVI) as our brothers in the fight, we consider them as people who really want the best for their country and we are in support of them. Our prayers, firstly, and also we are giving them any kind of support they will need."

Samuels said his organisation's youth arm, Love March Movement, was planning what would be its third march on September 13 under the theme 'Strong Families and Strong Nation', dealing with issues surrounding the buggery law, promoting marriages as the ideal way of growing families and establishing sexual romantic relationships.