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Constitutional Convention Inches Closer to Goal

Feb. 18, 2009 — The 5th Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention inched toward completion of a draft constitution in hearings of the whole convention Tuesday and Wednesday, returning language for review by the convention's various committees after a series of votes against adopting various provisions.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Edward Cullen of South Gate Baptist and the Rev. Anthony Benjamin of Calvary Baptist on St. Croix presented a petition from 1,300 churchgoers asking the convention to add a constitutional provision forbidding same sex marriages, and both Tuesday and Wednesday, delegate Wilma Marsh Monsanto moved to have such a provision included.
The two Baptist ministers said they spoke for all religious people in asking for the anti-gay marriage provision and had signatures from churches of several denominations.
"We are here today to request, not demand or coerce in any way but on behalf of all people of faith, to consider humbly to define marriage as between a man and a woman," Cullen said, to vigorous nods from Monsanto and Kendall Petersen.
Benjamin said the signatures came from various faiths and both from St. Croix and St. Thomas.
"So we hope you will pay attention to the sentiments of religious people on this very important issue of marriage," he said.
On Tuesday, Monsanto introduced language to ban gay marriage, which was amended by Lois Hassel-Habtes to send the language to the committee handling the preamble. The amended motion failed. On Wednesday, Monsanto moved to send language banning gay marriage to the committee on citizenship, Virgin Islander rights, environment, cultural and historical preservation for consideration. This time, the motion passed.
Voting yea were: Monsanto, Hassel-Habtes, Douglas Brady, Gerard Emanuel, Mario Francis, Arnold Golden, Stedman Hodge, Frank Jackson, Myron Jackson, Cain Magras, Claire Roker, Michael Thurland, Richard Schrader, Elsie Trotman, Alecia Wells and Lisa Williams. Voting nay were Craig Barshinger, Mary Moorhead and Robert Schuster. Absent at the vote were Rena Brodhurst, Douglas Capdeville, Charles Turnbull, Kendall Petersen, Gerard "Luz" James, Lawrence Sewer and Arturo Watlington Jr.
Substantial portions of both meetings were spent discussing when and where to meet, and arranging to have legal and constitutional consultants confer with the convention's drafting committees before the next hearings of the full convention.
This convention has a deadline of May 31 to produce a draft document.
Mary Moorhead, the convention's secretary, said she wanted the convention to have a final draft by the end of April so there would be a chance for an educational outreach before the final deadline, urging members to ensure their committees have enough attendance to meet quorum calls and to be mindful of the short time left.
Present were: Brady, Rena Brodhurst, Adelbert Bryan, Gerard Emanuel, Mario Francis, Hassell-Habtes, Stedman Hodge Jr., Magras, Thomas Moore, Moorhead, Dr. Eugene Petersen, Kendall Petersen, Clair Roker, Schrader, Schuster, Lawrence Sewer, Michael Thurland, Elsie Thomas-Trotman, Alecia Wells and Lisa Williams. Absent were Craig Barshinger, Douglas Capdeville, Arnold Golden, Violet Anne Golden, Francis Jackson, Myron Jackson, Wilma Marsh Monsanto, Charles Turnbull, Arturo Watlington, Jr. and Gerard Luz James II.

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Feb. 18, 2009 -- The 5th Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention inched toward completion of a draft constitution in hearings of the whole convention Tuesday and Wednesday, returning language for review by the convention's various committees after a series of votes against adopting various provisions.
On Tuesday, the Rev. Edward Cullen of South Gate Baptist and the Rev. Anthony Benjamin of Calvary Baptist on St. Croix presented a petition from 1,300 churchgoers asking the convention to add a constitutional provision forbidding same sex marriages, and both Tuesday and Wednesday, delegate Wilma Marsh Monsanto moved to have such a provision included.
The two Baptist ministers said they spoke for all religious people in asking for the anti-gay marriage provision and had signatures from churches of several denominations.
"We are here today to request, not demand or coerce in any way but on behalf of all people of faith, to consider humbly to define marriage as between a man and a woman," Cullen said, to vigorous nods from Monsanto and Kendall Petersen.
Benjamin said the signatures came from various faiths and both from St. Croix and St. Thomas.
"So we hope you will pay attention to the sentiments of religious people on this very important issue of marriage," he said.
On Tuesday, Monsanto introduced language to ban gay marriage, which was amended by Lois Hassel-Habtes to send the language to the committee handling the preamble. The amended motion failed. On Wednesday, Monsanto moved to send language banning gay marriage to the committee on citizenship, Virgin Islander rights, environment, cultural and historical preservation for consideration. This time, the motion passed.
Voting yea were: Monsanto, Hassel-Habtes, Douglas Brady, Gerard Emanuel, Mario Francis, Arnold Golden, Stedman Hodge, Frank Jackson, Myron Jackson, Cain Magras, Claire Roker, Michael Thurland, Richard Schrader, Elsie Trotman, Alecia Wells and Lisa Williams. Voting nay were Craig Barshinger, Mary Moorhead and Robert Schuster. Absent at the vote were Rena Brodhurst, Douglas Capdeville, Charles Turnbull, Kendall Petersen, Gerard "Luz" James, Lawrence Sewer and Arturo Watlington Jr.
Substantial portions of both meetings were spent discussing when and where to meet, and arranging to have legal and constitutional consultants confer with the convention's drafting committees before the next hearings of the full convention.
This convention has a deadline of May 31 to produce a draft document.
Mary Moorhead, the convention's secretary, said she wanted the convention to have a final draft by the end of April so there would be a chance for an educational outreach before the final deadline, urging members to ensure their committees have enough attendance to meet quorum calls and to be mindful of the short time left.
Present were: Brady, Rena Brodhurst, Adelbert Bryan, Gerard Emanuel, Mario Francis, Hassell-Habtes, Stedman Hodge Jr., Magras, Thomas Moore, Moorhead, Dr. Eugene Petersen, Kendall Petersen, Clair Roker, Schrader, Schuster, Lawrence Sewer, Michael Thurland, Elsie Thomas-Trotman, Alecia Wells and Lisa Williams. Absent were Craig Barshinger, Douglas Capdeville, Arnold Golden, Violet Anne Golden, Francis Jackson, Myron Jackson, Wilma Marsh Monsanto, Charles Turnbull, Arturo Watlington, Jr. and Gerard Luz James II.

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Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.