EDITOR, The Tribune
WEDNESDAY, March 2, 2016 has been hailed as an historic day by FNM and PLP parliamentarians, because of the passing of the four Constitutional Amendment Bills on gender equality in the legislature.
Thirty-seven of the MPs present voted in favour of the first bill. Marco City MP Greg Moss was the lone MP to reject bills two and three. Thirty-four MPs voted “yes’’ to bill four - a bill which seeks to end discrimination based on sex.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, in an address to Parliament, assured the nation that this bill has absolutely nothing to do with same-sex marriage. notwithstanding what some pundits claims to be its sheer ambiguity.
Bahamians, especially those of the religious spectrum, are ambivalent towards bill number four. They never want to rue the day of the referendum if the judicial system in the future were to legitimise gay civil unions based on the passing of bill four.
The PLP is lobbying for bipartisanship for the upcoming constitutional exercise. In 2002, then opposition Leader Perry Christie pledged his party’s full co-operation with the Ingraham-led FNM administration for the 2002 referendum. Five questions were put to the Bahamian people. The first bill concerned the removal of gender discrimination from the Constitution. Of the approximately 88,000 Bahamians who voted on bill one, a whopping 58,000 plus or 66 per cent voted “no,’’ this writer included.
I voted against it because the PLP, along with the late constitutional scholar and parliamentarian Paul Adderley, advised the Bahamian public to do so. Adderley was cogent and persuasive. His influence on me was massive. And I am not even PLP. I supported the FNM in the 2002 general election as I have done in 1997, 2007 and 2012.
Most Bahamians, particularly men who only have high school diplomas, were terrified by the prospect of the massive influx of university educated foreign males into The Bahamas after marrying Bahamian women. We were afraid that these educated foreigners would literally take over the country, relegating the uneducated among us to the back-burner. Most Bahamian women who have been educated abroad will most likely settle for a foreign male who has a college degree, rather than a Bahamian plumber, cab and jitney driver, waiter or construction worker, which is her God-given right.
Like many among us, I am apprehensive at the prospect of Bahamian men siring children with illegal immigrant women, whose only aim is to require some sort of residential status in The Bahamas. I am wary of bill number three because of this very reason.
I am not xenophobic, nor am I misogynistic. The same can be said for the overwhelming majority of those who rejected the referendum in 2002. I am as ambivalent today towards bill numbers two, three and four as I was towards the first bill in the 2002 referendum - which is due to Paul Adderley and the PLP’s mesmerising influence on my attitude towards any adjustments to the constitutional regarding citizenship.
Therefore, I will be voting “no’’ to three of the bills. The PLP thoroughly persuaded me to reject the 2002 referendum. Twelve years later, I am still fully persuaded in the PLP anti-referendum message.
March 3, 2016