The bill sponsored by Bong County Senior Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, amends and restates Section 2.3 of the Domestic Relations Law of the Republic of Liberia.
Yesterday’s unanimous decision followed the convening of members of the Committee on Judiciary, Claims, Petition and Human Rights on Monday, July 16, to debate the legal implication and constitutional relevance of the proposed bill.
The summary of bill, when passed into law, will “amend and restate Section 2.3 of the Domestic Relations Law of Liberia, and will give no effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any one which represents a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of the Republic, and is considered violation of the prohibition a Second Degree Felony.”
Reading the summary of the contents of the bill before the Senate Plenary at its 51st sitting yesterday, the chairman of the committee, Sen. Joseph N. Nagbe, noted that “as a consequence of the debate, the Committee is of the opinion that the proposed amendment does not contravene any portion of the 1986 Constitution; the organic law of the republic and therefore, recommends for your legislative consideration the passage into law the aforementioned amendment to give effect to the aspirations of the entire Liberian citizenry.”
The amendment of Section 2.3 of the Domestic Relations Law now reads as follows: “No marriage shall be contracted between persons, one or both of whom has a spouse still living; not between an ancestor and a descendant, a brother and sister of either the whole or half blood, an uncle and niece or an aunt and nephew, or first cousin; or of persons of the same sex.”
Reacting to the passage of the Bill yesterday, Sen. Taylor firstly thanked her colleagues for the passage of what she described as a piece of legislation that will strengthen marriage between a man and woman, and clarified that it was not an anti-gay/lesbian Bill like the one currently been debated in the House of Representatives; “because there are people who are homosexual that continue to do whatever they want to do. My Bill seeks to ensure the fact that people of the same sex under our law should not be allowed to get married. ”
“I am concerned that our country does not degenerate into seen people of the same sex getting married, and to me that is critical,” further clarifying that the Bill before the House of Representatives seeks to ban homosexuality as an Act.
On the question of whether the law applies to those Liberians of the same sex who decide to get married outside Liberia, Sen. Taylor said once the law has been passed it affects all those who go through that process.
She expressed satisfaction over the penalty for violators of that law which is second degree felony which she said would serve as a deterrent, and not the death penalty that other people may have loved to see imposed.
Yesterday’s bill, according to Sen. Taylor, is the third of hers to be passed in recent time.
She named one of the Bills as “The Assistant Superintendent for Financial Management, which creation she said was necessary for financial accountability and good governance, and to keep track of county and city development funds allocated. The other Act which she said was co-sponsored by Maryland County Senator Horatios Dan Morias is the creation of the Autonomy of the National Traditional Council of Liberia.
“So I see the passage of these three Bills as significant pieces legislation and I want to thank those in the Lower House and Senate for agreeing with this document which I believe will enhance good governance.”
Sen. Taylor said that “the power of the chiefs have diminished over the years, but by the creation of the Autonomy of the National Traditional Council of Liberia you bring back the authority of the chiefs, so that they will no longer be passing around begging when they can have their own budget in their service governing and traditional rule.
Members of the Committee on Judiciary, Claims, Petition and human Rights that debated the Bill include Senators Abel Momolu Massalay, co-chairman; Frederick D. Cherue, Member; Jewel Howard-Taylor, Member; Armah Jallah, Member and Joseph N. Nagbe, Chairman.