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Chief Justice Glad Of Debate Over Same Sex Marriage Laws

By SANCHESKA BROWN

Tribune Staff Reporter

sbrown@tribunemedia.net

CHIEF Justice Sir Michael Barnett said he was surprised by the negative reaction to his comments about same sex marriage, but glad they sparked a discussion that is good for democracy.

Last week, Sir Michael drew the ire of local pastors when he told judges the Bahamas will have to address the issue of same sex marriage at some point.

“I was surprised by the reaction. The speech was an address made to some judges and I was talking about the affect American jurisprudence has on Bahamian jurisprudence.

“The point I was simply trying to make was, as we consider important issues, we look to the prudence of other countries including the United States in helping us formulate how the judges of the courts look for solutions to problems that come before the courts and I just simply used that as an example,” he said.

“I never used the word ‘soon’, I said it is a matter of time, but you know any discussion over any topic is healthy for democracy and healthy for society.

“We cannot pretend these issues do not exist and the more we talk about issues the more society comes to a consensus as to how to treat the issue. So the discussion is healthy for democracy.”

When asked if he thinks the Bahamas is ready for a serious discussion about same sex marriage, Sir Michael said, “Why not?”

He also said he does not believe the issue is one that needs to go to a referendum.

Since his initial comments, many religious leaders have come forward to express their opposition to same sex unions and say they will never preside over a marriage ceremony between two men or two women.

Dr Myles Munroe, in his contribution to the Constitutional Reform Commission, urged members to change the wording of the Constitution to specify that marriage in the Bahamas can only take place between “a male man and a female woman”.

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