Nottage: Vote hurt by same-sex marriage talk

Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage.

Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage.


Tribune Staff Reporter


WITH momentum ahead of the June 7 constitutional referendum appearing to be with the “no” campaign, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage said yesterday that he believes talk of same-sex marriage will negatively impact the vote on amendments to the Constitution.

“It will impact the vote negatively because the question and amendments have nothing to do with that,” he told reporters during an interview following a House of Assembly session yesterday.

“The fact that these matters are being brought up now is a bit mischievous because it would appear as if there are very responsible people in our community who are prepared to suggest that (the bills have to do with same-sex marriage) when they know full well that they are not connected.”

Talk of same-sex marriage and rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have come to define the debate about the referendum. Government officials and organisers of the YES Bahamas campaign have pushed back against this narrative, stressing that the upcoming vote is about equal rights for men and women in the Constitution.

Dr Nottage, however, said he has no regrets about the government not including the words “at birth” in the fourth proposed amendment which would prohibit discrimination based on one’s sex, which is defined as being male or female.

“No regrets because we’ve been informed that including the words at birth would’ve created more confusion than is the case now,” he said.

Some pastors have suggested that those words, along with the Constitutional Commission’s recommendation that a provision explicitly saying that the anti-discrimination amendment would not conflict with laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, would have allayed fears about the ramifications of the amendment if they were included.

Nonetheless, Dr Nottage said: “I understand that there is a certain segment of the community who are genuinely concerned about same-sex marriage, I understand that, but to suggest that this will lead to same-sex marriage ought not to be a consequence of their fears but based on the facts as they are. There are some people who are even suggesting that it is the intent of the government that same-sex marriage be validated by these changes and that’s not true.”

Despite pushback, Dr Nottage said he doesn’t believe it’s necessary for proponents of the amendments to start encouraging Bahamians to at least vote for the first three amendments which, unlike the fourth bill, concern citizenship, even if they can’t support the fourth bill.

“I wouldn’t say that to anybody,” he said. “I think people should support the four bills, which leads to a path for citizenship for people who qualify for it and the path for equality for people regardless of their sex. Those are simple propositions, nothing complicated about that.”

“I think there’s a lot of erroneous misinformation being circulated by people who oppose the amendments,” he continued. “I trust that Bahamians will make sure they acquaint themselves with the true impact of the amendments and vote to support them.”

Dr Nottage, who is the minister responsible for referendums, also said he could not yet verify the cost of the referendum, saying it will cost about just as much as the gaming referendum of 2013. Dr Nottage has previously said the gambling vote cost the government just over $1.2 million.

He also became mildly defensive when asked if he thinks the government should give public funds to the referendum’s vote “no” campaign, telling The Tribune only the minister of finance can speak to the issue.

“I’m a member of the government,” he said. “That’s not an appropriate question to ask me. I already told you where to go with that question.”

Since the vote “no” campaigns requested public funds several weeks ago, government officials, including Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, have refused to give a definitive response to the question of what it intends to do.


sheeprunner12 8 years, 2 months ago

BJ is the Cabinet Minister responsible for every national or local election/poll/referendum etc. held in this country until the General Election in 2017 ............. he has a right to voice his opinion on issues affecting them ................. he should be ensuring that they are conducted fairly and professionally instead of putting goon squad partisan persons to run these polls ........ but the Parliamentary Commissioner is still under pressure to resist political interference at the polls

B_I_D___ 8 years, 2 months ago

Sadly...this is true. Definitely a case of shut mout catch no fly!! If the LGBT community laid low and kept quiet on this instead of pushing it to the forefront, chances are it would have been passed without much fanfare...THEN once the amendments were passed they could start making some noise and their legal arguments according to the letter of the law. The letter of the law and the 'INTENT' behind the law are too often confused. The law is the law...you can't then turn around and say the intent behind the law was different from what you yourselves wrote. But it is out there now, big and bold and our homophobic and hypocritical little country will likely vote no AGAIN to something because they want to ensure that an insignificant amount of the population MIGHT get some say. So all you women, looking to get equal rights lose again.

John 8 years, 2 months ago

What does carnival and the referendum have in common? While you think about it do you know that the Federal government is taking both the state of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina to court over bathroom issues? Both the state and university require persons to use bathrooms of the sex indicated on their birth certificates while LGBT persons believe they should use bathrooms of choice or separate bathrooms should be provided for them. And that is exactly the referendum is taking us.: "The transformation of society by the promotion of non traditional sexual activity." They want to attack social norms and unity by the promotion of same sex marriage, bisexuality, feminist ideology, abortion, immigration and even the adoption of foreign children by same sex couples. And these bills will give men or women power to take their children out the Bahamas and to live with them and their same sex partner anywhere in the world. Remember the father and the mother have equal rights. Not only do they want to destroy any barriers between nations, but they want to eliminate any differences between male and female. This will lead to further uprooting of family values, Spiritual decay, brainwashed youth who are void of traditional values, Not only do they want intermingling of the sexes but a new form of immigration and a further intermixing of the races. A boarder-less world. A form of self pride to the point of having to fake joy (yes carnival where they dance in the street almost naked and eventually it will be same-sex partners). And they want you to vote for it. And the more they say ,'it aint about that", the more it seems to be "about that." It may not be about same sex marriage, but same sex and no marriage at all.

Abaconian 8 years, 2 months ago

You are living in la la land with your crazy, farfetched conspiracies about "they" want to eliminate difference between men and women"; "they" want to attack social norms by the promotion of same sex marriage and feminist ideology", and so forth. First of all, who the hell is "they"?

The bills are simple. It's about giving women equal rights as men. It's about allowing a bahamian women to pass on her citizenship in the same way a bahamian man can. Your outlandish claims may fool certain ignorant sections of our society but anyone with half a brain can see straight through it.

I can't believe that there are educated people in this country, some with positions of power, who are saying that these bills will pave the way for same-sex marriage and all sorts of other nonsense. It has nothing at all to do with that, and they know it. Some people simply do not want women to have the same rights as men. Women are not regarded as equals by a large section of people in our society and that is the simple fact of the matter.

VDSheep 8 years, 2 months ago

The result of the gaming referendum of 2013 was discarded, still; Bahamians cannot gamble in our own casinos ' the people's opinion was overruled by this government ' the people's money was wasted! Who is to say the same will not happen again with this referendum? From 1973 our constitution is incomplete - because we need to establish equal rights for women..., what else do we need to do by referendum, to correct the incompetence of our leaders?! Why can't we have all these issues on a ballot during a national election? Answer: the party in power doesn't want to risk the issues causing them not to be elected. Any type of representative democracy - is just that - representative ' it's not democracy - how could it be when someone other than me represents my democracy? So, politicians do what they want: manipulate the people at will ' to suit their own agendas' and always we are: VDSheep! Either the politicians are morons, or the people are ' or perhaps we are all morons ' for sucking up to this representative democracy farce.

Well_mudda_take_sic 8 years, 2 months ago

Re-post: Bahamians had better mark their "X" on the ballot next to the picture of the gate, as it represents (1) the gate to keep thousands of foreigners (wanting Bahamian status) out of our country and (2) the gate to keep same-sex marriages from happening in our country! The corrupt Ingraham-led FNM and Christie-led PLP governments of the past three decades think we are all fools. Even though many of us are either unemployed or under employed, our corrupt government is now hell bent on granting thousands of foreigners Bahamian status in exchange for their vote down the road. We can't afford to let this happen. Bahamians must show up at the polls on June 7th and vote a resounding "NO!" to all four of the proposed amendments to our constitution. Remember....just mark your "X" next to the picture of the gate on your ballot. You must vote "NO" otherwise you and your family will really be sorry when the wave of foreigners come to our shores to take your job for less pay!

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