YES Bahamas will 'explain' why bill four won't bring gay marriage

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April 19, 2016

Senate President Lady Sharon Wilson, who co-chairs the YES Bahamas campaign, said though she is concerned that the Vote No campaign announced on Sunday has opposed constitutional referendum bill number four due to concerns about same-sex marriage, her group takes comfort in the fact that there appears to be no organized opposition to the other three bills.

"First of all, I think we are particularly pleased that there is not a rejection of the other three bills," Wilson said.

However, she said the job of the vote yes campaign is to explain why same-sex marriage and bill four are not related.

"People do need to understand that the constitution itself allows for discrimination in marriage... under our Matrimonial Causes Act it is very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman, this referendum will not change that in any way, shape or form," Wilson said.

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who is also part of the vote yes campaign, further explained that the fourth question on the June 7 referendum, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, would not open the door to same-sex marriage, charging that "the country's [Matrimonial Causes Act] makes it clear that marriage is defined as a union between a male and a female".

"These bills are among a few simple items that deal with equality for our sons and daughters," said Maynard-Gibson. "[Question four] does not in any way bring about same-sex marriage and the law is very clear on that."

Maynard-Gibson was responding to the newly formed group, Save Our Bahamas, under the banner of which several pastors who led the 'Vote No' campaign ahead of the 2013 gambling referendum have banded together to reject the fourth question.

These pastors include Pastors Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church, Pastor Lyall Bethel of Grace Community Church, Rev. Alfred Stewart of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and popular talk show host Kevin "Minister K" Harris.

The pastors said their main reason for rejecting the bill is because it would open the door to same-sex marriage, despite assurance from the government that it would not. They said another reason is because "the government has ignored the expressed wishes of the Bahamian people to provide in the constitution what would protect marriage as a union between a man and a woman".

However, Maynard-Gibson argued that the country's constitution already makes it clear that marriage in the Bahamas is a union between a man and a woman, it is as simple as that.

"Marriage is between a man and a woman and it is as simple as that," she said. "The Bahamian people will continue to hear that and Justice [Rubie] Nottage and her team and Lady Wilson and her team will make sure that people clearly understand that."

Nottage, who co-chairs the Public Education Committee, previously stated that those who believe bill four would result in same-sex marriage simply do not understand the bill.

Last month, the constitutional amendment bills were passed with near unanimous support in the House of Assembly and unanimous support in the Senate, paving the way for a referendum.

The government launched the YES Bahamas campaign earlier this month urging Bahamians to vote yes on all four bills, which Prime Minister Perry Christie described as "four commonsense changes to our constitution" adding that the bills "do not propose radical changes".

Samone Davis

Guardian Staff Reporter

Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian

News date : 04/19/2016    Category : Nassau Guardian Stories

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