THE Yes Bahamas campaign yesterday hit out at a “small group of pastors” who oppose the fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill, calling their stance “a rejection of equal rights for our sons and daughters.”
In a statement released last night, the Yes Bahamas campaign said the facts do not support the religious leaders’ claims that bill four would lead to gay marriage.
The statement came a day after the Save Our Bahamas Committee, the same group that opposed the 2013 gambling referendum, launched a campaign against the fourth bill.
During a press conference at the Grace Community Church on Sunday, the committee called on the electorate to “vote their conscience” on bills one, two and three; but urged voters against being duped by the government’s “diabolical” plot to allow for same-sex marriage under the guise of gender equality.
However, supporters of the referendum strongly refute this argument.
“The Yes Bahamas campaign notes with interest that a small group of pastors have come together to campaign against bill four. This is tantamount to a rejection of equal rights for our sons and daughters.
“Pastor Mario Moxey is quoted as saying ‘The reason why we’re focused on bill number four is that we feel it would open the door to same-sex marriage’.”
“The pastor may ‘feel’ that way, but the facts do not support him,” Yes Bahamas’ statement said.
“The Constitution of the Bahamas prohibits racial and religious discrimination in Article 26. The proposed amendment, number four, would ensure that the same Article also prohibits discrimination against men or women. That would simply mean that men and women cannot be treated less favourably than the other under any law or act by public officials and that Parliament would be prevented from passing new laws that would discriminate against men or women.”
The statement added: “Bahamian men and women have the same responsibilities as citizens; they should have the same rights as well.
“Any suggestion that giving men and women equal rights would somehow lead to same-sex marriage does not have any basis in fact or law. The lawyers who drafted amendment four went out of their way to guide future courts, by defining ‘sex’ as ‘male or female,’ so that no judge could interpret ‘sex’ as ‘sexual orientation.’”
The statement added that Bahamian law specifies that marriage must be between a man and a woman, under the Matrimonial Causes Act, Section 21(1)(c), stressing that the proposed amendment would not change this.
“This law is specifically exempted by Article 26 (4) of the Constitution from being in conflict with the non-discrimination provision of Article 26, and is also saved by Article 30 as a pre-existing law from being incompatible with any constitutional rights. Thus, the Constitution already recognises that marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman,” the statement said.
Save Our Bahamas consists of Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church; Pastor Lyall Bethel of Grace Community Church; Minister Kevin Harris; Alfred Stewart, senior pastor at New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church; and Geoffrey Wood, senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church.
The referendum is set for June 7.