By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
LONG ISLAND MP Loretta Butler-Turner suggested yesterday that FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis should accept responsibility for the part he played in Tuesday’s failed gender equality referendum.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mrs Butler-Turner said she feels Dr Minnis should have “stood by his original convictions” and not “shift mid-stream
depending on which way the wind blows.”
Dr Minnis supported the four Constitutional Amendment Bills when they were passed in Parliament in March and has repeatedly said his party believes in gender equality and women’s rights.
In an interview with The Tribune in February, he also said the FNM fully backed the referendum adding: “I am for all four of the bills.”
However, since the vote passed in the House in Assembly, Dr Minnis has been less clear about his position, instead criticising the Christie administration for its handling of the process and accusing the government of pushing the ‘yes’ vote down people’s throats.
On Monday, Dr Minnis refused to reveal how he was voting in the equality referendum. When asked by The Tribune if he was for or against the amendments to the Constitution, Dr Minnis said his vote is “private and confidential.”
Mrs Butler-Turner said Dr Minnis’ refusal to state his position “was very disconcerting” especially since the FNM has historically been the party that has supported gender equality.
“I believe that when you determine you are going to do something and you make agreements and you make public announcements, you should stand by what you say. I feel the leader of our party should have stood by the convictions that he originally said the party line will take,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“I feel as though Prime Minister Perry Christie should be blamed, but the FNM is trying to be the alternative government and leaders stand by their convictions and are very clear in their directions for those of us who are being guided by them. It was disconcerting because the FNM has historically been the party that has supported the referendum. We brought the very first one (in 2002) and we are also the party that introduced many firsts for women in this country.”
Mrs Butler-Turner, who supported the YES Bahamas campaign, said she has “no issues” with the results of the referendum but she hopes it is something that can be “revisited” in the future.
“This country is young and still has room for growth. I think when you are in a leading role, consistency is a huge part of your credibility. As a leader you have to make a decision and stand firm, sometimes you are on the right side, sometimes you are on the wrong side but you have to be on a side,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“I have no issues with the vote, it is (the) art of democracy and hopefully it can be revisited.”
Voters “overwhelmingly” rejected the four referendum questions on Tuesday, according to Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall.
Only a handful of results were released Tuesday night by the Parliamentary Registration Department due to numerous technical setbacks.
On Tuesday morning, ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Perry Christie said he was “disappointed” that the Official Opposition, who “once stood shoulder to shoulder” with him on the constitutional referendum, has decided to “back away” publicly from supporting the vote.