Prime Minister Perry Christie.
By RASHAD ROLLE and
Tribune Staff Reporters
AS debate rages about the implications of the government’s proposed amendments to the Constitution, Prime Minister Perry Christie insisted that same-sex marriage will never happen in the Bahamas during his lifetime.
Mr Christie appeared agitated by the continued argument that the fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill could lead to same-sex marriage, telling The Tribune on Friday night that he is “almost embarrassed by” this line of thinking.
As for calls from those campaigning against the referendum to be given public funds considering the government has funded the YES Bahamas campaign, Mr Christie suggested he is not swayed by their arguments saying this administration has chosen to be on the “moral” side of the issue.
Mr Christie also called talk that the referendum is a smokescreen to legalise gay marriage through the back door “nonsense.”
“For me, I’m almost embarrassed by it,” he said on the sidelines of Junkanoo Carnival.
On the issue of funding the “no” campaign, he said: “People can ask and they can even go to the courts. We have to do what we have to do. I believe I have taken the morally correct position.”
“I hope everything goes well,” he added. “We support strongly the ‘yes’ side. We’ve made an effort to get the best lawyers from within the commonwealth to speak to the question of whether a backdoor to same-sex marriage could be opened and they’ve all said no. I’m almost embarrassed by it. One could argue what one might like. But I said to all of the religious leaders present (at a meeting with the late Dr Myles Munroe in 2014) that in my lifetime we will never have same-sex marriages. I don’t believe in it and my government doesn’t believe in it so it’s nonsense to speak about backdoor entry to same-sex marriage.”
During another interview on Saturday, he said: “I have said and will continue to say without fear of contradiction, this vote has nothing to do with same-sex. I have given them (religious leaders) that assurance and some continue to push a no vote, which is okay.”
“But my government has gone to great lengths to ensure that a yes vote would mean exactly what we say, a move to ensure that our sons and daughters are equal in the eyes of the constitution.”
He added: “The legal minds in the Bahamas have given us the nod and told us we are good to go, similarly with legal minds in the US, the UK and other major places around the world.”
“A point in fact here, many of those legal minds have said that our laws as presently constituted does more to allow same-sex marriage than any changes proposed in this referendum and that is what is strange.”
“And it is an amazing contradiction on their part.
“But, as it stands I can only hope that they can understand that government has taken the position that it is correct to have equality between our daughters and our sons and that our sons should not be superior to our daughters.”
One of the groups opposing the fourth referendum question, Save Our Bahamas, has formally written Mr Christie, requesting $100,000 to fund its campaign.
The organisation believes the fourth question would open the door to same-sex marriage. The other three questions deal with issues of citizenship.
The government has not revealed how much it has spent on the YES Bahamas campaign. Mr Christie would only say that the amount was not “that large”. He went on to say that the final amount still had to be totalled.
The country is still awaiting clarity on the total cost of the upcoming referendum.
National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage, who has responsibility for referenda, told The Tribune late last month that he would speak to the issue of costs and funding during a contribution in the House of Assembly later that week.
However, he has not yet spoken on the matter.
On the weekend, Mr Christie suggested that the cost could be in excess of $1 million.
The gender equality vote will take place on June 7.