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Questions For Referendum Have Been Altered, Says Nottage

Dr Bernard Nottage

Dr Bernard Nottage

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

QUESTIONS for the upcoming constitutional referendum have been altered as the government considers further changes to proposed amendments, according to National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage.

Dr Nottage, who has responsibility for referendums, confirmed that the Constitutional Commission has “added some words” to make the questions simpler based on his suggestions and public consultation.

He did not confirm whether there is a set timeline to finalise the bills, but reiterated that the government was prepared to push back the referendum date if needed.

“November 6 is the date we would wish to have it, but if we have to postpone it, we will,” he said.

Dr Nottage said the government welcomed constructive feedback on the bills to ensure that there was full public support for the primary goal of gender equality, adding that it was “foolish” to consider differences in opinion to be an indication of poor leadership.

“The truth is that any political party, any grouping, is made up of individuals who sometimes have differences of belief,” he said.

“What we seek to do is to talk with each other and come to a compromise, but in this particular one it is unthinkable that at this time in our development that we would wish to continue to discriminate against women in our communities.”

Debate on the bills to amend the Constitution is expected to resume today; however, Dr Nottage said the revised questions will not be tabled today because the government’s “diligent examination” of proposals was not yet complete.

He spoke to the press at an informational forum hosted by the Constitutional Commission for PLP members on Monday.

He added that it is evident that many people are unsure of the specifics of the upcoming referendum.

Dr Nottage said: “When you listen to the talk shows and we go on Facebook you can see quite clearly that in a number of cases people do not understand fully what the bills seek to achieve.”

“Ultimately, the people will decide if they support these precepts, but I don’t want them to get it wrong. I want them to know what they’re supporting or what they’re against.”

PLP MPs Leslie Miller, Greg Moss, Andre Rollins, and Renward Wells have noted their reservations about some of the bills.

The fourth bill, which seeks to end discrimination based on sex, has become contentious as speculation continues over whether the amendment could one day lead to gay marriage. This involves the insertion of the word “sex” in Article 26 of the Constitution to make it unconstitutional to discriminate based on whether someone is male or female.

The government has adamantly refuted this possibility. Prime Minister Perry Christie has previously stated that the government would not change the wording of the amendment that has sparked heated public debate.

At the informational forum, Constitutional Committee Chairman Sean McWeeney called concerns over same-sex marriage “nonsense”. Mr McWeeney challenged Bahamians to vote on whether or not they believed in the principle of equality between men and women.

Dr Nottage said the government is taking the feedback over the bills into consideration.

“It would be illogical to think that everybody would agree with everything so whatever has been expressed to us either by members of our caucus, or our party, or the general public, is receiving consideration.”

He added: “The government is not against making amendments to the amendments if we think they are worthy and will get the support of the people, and that they will achieve what we are trying to do which is to provide women with equality of opportunities of every kind in this country.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 5 years, 11 months ago

Didn't Perry Christie just say he wasn't altering the questions. Is he that out of touch???? It's like every one of his ministers is openly defying him and making him look the fool....

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realfreethinker 5 years, 11 months ago

You are so right. it's as if they dont have cabinet meetings and if they do they must be playing footsies under the table. I have never seen such a dysfunctional government in my life. they can't seem to get on the same page and speak with one voice geeez

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 11 months ago

This debate is OVER ....................... the HOA is in chaos ................. and the Young Turks seem to have really found the BALLS to stand up to Cabinet. Even HAM is riling up Perry!!!!! ............ BOL

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John 5 years, 11 months ago

This whole process about the referendum has been muddied intentionally and otherwise by those with personal agenda and other motives. And many persons are still ticked off that the government did not abide by the results of the referendum on gaming. To make the results of this poll meaningful the government must do a lot of ground work to gain the confidence of the electorate, and to ensure that there is clarity and sincerity in what it intends to do. Unless and until this is done the poll will be useless and a waste of taxpayers' money.

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 11 months ago

Either BJ is incompetent as the Government Leader in the HOA or he is throwing Perry and women under the bus ....................... because he is not in support of the Referendum. Damian Gomez is really making his AG and that Office look really BAD ............... he should be fired.

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TalRussell 5 years, 11 months ago

Both Comrade PM's Christie and Hubert didn't have to waste taxpayers millions of dollars and their respective government's time, fooling around with going after some kind of gender equal amendment to Bahamaland's - doing just fine as it is Constitution.

WASHINGTON -- The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia when he wrote:

"Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society."

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hj 5 years, 11 months ago

Recent quotes by government members on the upcoming referendum. " These are the referendum questions and they will not be changed" " The referendum questions will be changed" " I have not seen the referendum questions" " Maybe there will be no referendum" Is stupidity the order of the day? Just asking

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 11 months ago

Wow and double Wow.

“‘She was our leader in the Elks. We didn’t know what this Mable Walker was talking about.
“We had no idea. But since Ms. Walker said to sign, we signed". Mitchell called that a display of “loyalty, faithfulness and trust”.“And that is what leadership is supposed to enjoy; implicit trust,” he said. “The Anglican hymn says our foes press on from every side, thine aid supply, thy strength bestow.”

"Supposed" to???? WRONG-O!! leadership inspires** trust. Clearly it is impossible to trust the governing party as there are no leaders..."Leader" is not a title, it is a characteristic.

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Bahamianpride 5 years, 11 months ago

What do we pay these people for if everything has to result in a referendum, u are voted to represent the people, represent them with good decisions without wasting further resources and time on referendums. Issues of equal rights and immigrations should be handle swiftly because the majority of us all agree on these issues. The problem is obvious and as stated above many voices and conflicting statements but no real leadership from the P.M or Opposition. We have bunch of fools scoring political points but nothing gets done. Where is the gambling bill, freedom of information Act, or the enforcement of the laws as a result of the vote of the last referendum. Which brings up the point why waste time with referendums when results are tossed to the side and the will of the people through voting process is ignored.

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Bahamianpride 5 years, 11 months ago

I must say just from a observation perspective that even with the resolution of these constitutional amendments, if it ever happens. The fundamental problem we have in the Bahamas is the Ignorance. We have a lot of Ignorant people and even with the passage of laws, on the ground level the enforcement and daily living is still affected by the amount of ignorance in the populations. Even with the best laws on the books, without better education for our people ignorance will prevail.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 11 months ago

How did the Tribune get inside BJ's jail cell to take the above picture of him?

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