By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
SAVE Our Bahamas yesterday said Prime Minister Perry Christie’s recent statements that same-sex marriage would never happen in The Bahamas during his lifetime should be viewed under the adage that “a promise is a comfort to a fool”.
The group, which opposes the fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill in the upcoming gender equality referendum, yesterday insisted that the sentiments pushed by Mr Christie and other leaders have not changed the committee’s belief that the bill would effectively open the door to same-sex marriage.
Pastor Lyall Bethel, pastor of Grace Community Church and associate member of the Save Our Bahamas committee, said the group’s stance has not changed “despite all the smoke and mirrors circus that is going on.” Pastor Bethel told The Tribune that the “circus” was evident in the actions of members of the transgender community whom he said rushed to the House of Assembly to show their support for the proposed amendments and then “distanced” themselves from the referendum.
He has also implied that spokespersons from the transgender community were coached into appearing ambivalent about the outcome of the referendum.
“I believe that our prime minister has already demonstrated to this voting electorate that the old adage is still true, ‘a promise is a comfort to a fool,’” said Pastor Bethel.
“Were we not assured endlessly and repeatedly that he would abide by the people’s wishes in the last referendum? Yet despite that resounding ‘no’ by the people, gambling joints have popped up all over the country, and not even an acknowledgement from (the prime minister) that he has anything to apologise for,” Pastor Bethel added.
He was referring to the 2013 gambling referendum.
Most of the people who voted said “no” to both questions on the ballot but the government later regulated web shops in spite of the results.
However that vote was considered an opinion poll and its results were not legally binding as is a constitutional referendum.
“We encourage all Bahamians of voting age to go and register to vote before May 25 and vote no against bill four on June 7. You can’t afford not to vote as this vote is binding, the government has to obey the people’s vote,” the pastor urged.
On Friday night, Mr Christie told The Tribune that he was “almost embarrassed by” the line of thinking that the upcoming referendum would open the door to same-sex marriage.
He went on to imply that a “yes” vote would be “morally” correct.
Save Our Bahamas came out in opposition to bill four after the Christie administration refused to amend the Constitution to define marriage as a union between a “born male” and a “born female” only.
The government has dismissed fears that the bill could inadvertently lead to same-sex marriage, stressing that the Matrimonial Causes Act would protect the status of marriage in the Bahamas.
At the YES Bahamas’ campaign launch, Mr Christie said the purpose of the upcoming vote is only to ensure that Bahamian men and women are equal under the Constitution.
Mr Christie stressed that in the Bahamas – under the Matrimonial Causes Act - marriage must be between a man and a woman, and the fourth amendment will not change that. The other three referendum bills deal with issues of citizenship.