From Jamaica, activist Maurice Tomlinson describes an encouraging incident on the long road toward fair treatment for Jamaica’s LGBTI citizens:
Am I married?
Recently I went to renew my Jamaican passport in Kingston and I was pleasantly surprised at the conversation with the customer service agent. It is reproduced below:
Passport Officer: “So, are you married or single?”
Me: “Well, I am married but Jamaican law does not recognize my marriage. So, I guess that in Jamaica I am single.”
Passport Officer: “What do you mean?”
Me: “I am married to a man in Canada but according to the Jamaican Constitution [s.18] same-sex relationships are not recognized in Jamaica.”
Passport Officer: “Oh no, you MUST put your marriage on the form. What is your wedding date?”
Me: “Uhmmm…I will have to look it up. [My husband, Tom, knows that I am horrible with dates.]”
Passport Officer: “Shame on you! You must ALWAYS remember your wedding date!”
Me: “Yes, true. And we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this year!”
Passport Officer: “Congratulations! Make sure that you write your spouse’s name on the form. We need up-to-date information! And congratulations again!”
Me: [Well, that was nice! No stigma. No discrimination. I wondered how Jamaican bureaucrats deal with the inevitable chaos caused by this discriminatory constitutional ban. Obviously, some just ignore it. After all, our major trading partners and where most diaspora Jamaicans live all recognize marriage-equality so there MUST be quite a few Jamaicans like me in same-sex marriages.]
Did I mention that this conversation took place in front of several other persons AND a security guard? I think that their chins are STILL on the floor.