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Equality Vote Date To Be June 7

Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Prime Minister Perry Christie.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie yesterday declared that the time had come for men and women in the country to enjoy the same rights in the Constitution as he announced that the gender equality referendum will be held on June 7.

Mr Christie stressed that the referendum did not propose radical change, pushing back against what he called “false rumours or incorrect information.”

He emphasised that the controversial fourth constitutional amendment would not lead to same-sex marriage. The proposed change seeks to update Article 26 of the Constitution to outlaw discrimination based on sex. He also pointed out that because the upcoming vote is a constitutional referendum, the people’s choice was final.

“There have been some questions about the intent and the possible effects of this change,” he said, referring to the fourth amendment.

“The purpose of this amendment is only to ensure that Bahamian men and women are equal under the law. I am going to emphasise that in the Bahamas, by law – under the Matrimonial Causes Act - marriage must be between a man and a woman, and this amendment will not change that.”

Mr Christie added: “In fact, the lawyers who drafted the language of the amendment went out of their way to protect traditional marriage, by defining ‘sex’ as meaning ‘male or female’. The language is clear, and the intent of Parliament – which any future court is likewise obliged to consider – is also crystal clear.”

Mr Christie pointed out that there were no previous cases in similar Commonwealth countries wherein such a change led to a judicially-created right to same-sex marriage.

“I repeat: this referendum will not cause same-sex marriage to become legal in The Bahamas,” he said.

“Marriage in The Bahamas will be legal only if it is between a man and a woman, and male and female are determined at birth.”

Mr Christie added: “I am so emphatic because it is so important for Bahamians to vote on what is really at stake – equal rights for our sons and daughters – and not let false rumours or incorrect information hold sway.”

He spoke at the launch of the YES Bahamas campaign, which seeks to educate persons and raise awareness about the upcoming referendum.

The campaign is co-chaired by Senate President Sharon Wilson and former Senate President Lynn Holowesko. Former Senators Cheryl Bazzard and Heather Hunt will act as co-executive directors.

Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage yesterday said the government did not have a specified budget for the constitutional referendum. Dr Nottage said the parliamentary commissioner would announce the deadline for voter registration today, adding that persons who registered for the 2012 general election would still be eligible. He noted that there would be significant costs for indelible ink and readying overseas polling stations.

The House of Assembly and Senate passed all four bills last month.

Bill one as written would give Bahamian women who are married to foreign men the right to pass on their Bahamian citizenship to any child of that union no matter where that child is born.

The Constitution currently says that only Bahamian male citizens by birth have that right.

Bill two as written would allow a Bahamian woman married to a foreign man the right to secure for her husband the same access to Bahamian citizenship as a Bahamian male has in relation to his foreign wife.

Bill three would grant any unmarried Bahamian man the right to pass on his Bahamian citizenship to any child he fathers with a foreign woman with proof of paternity.

Yesterday, Mr Christie underscored that the referendum was a simple exercise to modernise the country’s Constitution to reflect the shared values of its citizens.

“This referendum does not seek to change Bahamian society or our traditional values – instead it seeks to change the Constitution so that it more clearly reflects those values, and our shared belief in fairness,” he said.

He said he was certain that Bahamians from all walks of life would vote yes to all bills.

Mr Christie added: “Because there are moments to unite as a nation, moments when we come together to do the right thing, and this is one of those moments.”

Comments

sheeprunner12 4 years, 5 months ago

It would be a shame to see the PLP gloat over "winning" this Referendum when it was the PLP (Pindling) who created this Constitution in the first place ........... and the PLP sabotaged the Referendum in 2002 ................ but they have no morals and no shame ......... it would be a sad day when Bahamians hear Perry bragging about this as part of his "legacy" ...........SMDH

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realfreethinker 4 years, 5 months ago

sheeprunner12 you are so right O the irony. A tough pill to swallow

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John 4 years, 5 months ago

The curiosity and circumstance surrounding these bills will cause the average Bahamian either to not vote or to vote "no" to these bills. The facts are that anyone seeking the rights that these bills purport to bring under the constitution can get these rights viv a vis other means and the rights are not denied. Most Bahamians do not see any inequality of the sexes in the Bahamas. In fact many believe that females already have an advantage in employment opportunities,education and in social affairs and in many instances financially. Males are playing catch up.

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Greentea 4 years, 5 months ago

why bother to get these rights vis a vis some other means as you say, when we can enshrine those rights in the constitution? I guess I am not average because I will be voting yes, si and oui! .

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newcitizen 4 years, 5 months ago

By law, by the constitution, woman are less than men. This has to change. It's time for this country to stop being an ignorant backwater. If Bahamians don't see an inequality then they should have no problem voting 'YES'

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 5 months ago

Sooooooo, we gonna spend at least $2 million on another Referendum and another $2 million on a Vote Yes campaign and God knows how many millions on the McSweeny Commission ....... if this jackass Prime Minister has sense this would all have been avoided from 2002 ..... but they want to take care of the Highshuns, sissies, half-breeds and bastards now for election votes .............. this almost as bad as the Trini-style Carnival, numbers cartel, Nygardgate, BAMSIgate,BOB giveaways, Rubisgate and the Renew dumpfires ........ but the Southern Bahamas still waiting on Help and Hope from the hurricane

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lucaya 4 years, 5 months ago

No matter what the rhetoric,I'll still be voting NO!!

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newcitizen 4 years, 5 months ago

Either you are spitefully ignorant or spitefully bigoted.

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 5 months ago

I suggest that since women make up 55% of the registered voters that men sit this one out and let the women decide this Referendum ............ Men should ABSTAIN on June 7, 2016

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 5 months ago

Who in their right mind would trust anything coming out of Christie's mouth?

The only thing coming out of his mouth that we all know for certain is that the "Vomit" sure does stink to high heaven!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 5 months ago

Perry Christie and Sean McWeeny are about as detestable as they come and consider us to be fools. They know full well why the PLP government has persistently refused to change the proposed amendments to our constitution so that same-sex marriages would be prevented consistent with the wishes of the vast majority of Bahamians. I will be voting an emphatic "NO!" to three of the four changes in an effort to prevent same-sex marriages and also prevent our country from being over ridden by illegal immigrants and foreigners who would be made legal by the proposed amendments. The PLP government has failed to deliver on its promise of jobs, but is quite content to make it easy for thousands and thousands of illegal immigrants and foreigners to obtain status as a result of these proposed amendments so that they can compete with us for the very limited number of jobs available in our economy today.

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sheeprunner12 4 years, 5 months ago

Well it seems to me that The Bahamian collective mindset more closely reflects fundamentalist Taliban/ISIS philosophies cloaked in Western Christian dogma ........... we share that in common with them based on our views on women's place in society as enshrined in Pindling's 1973 Constitution .............. I rest my case on this topic .... cheeers

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