April 21, 2016
The pastors behind the vote no campaign yesterday pushed back at claims that they do not believe in equality of the sexes.
"Contrary to what has been reported in the press, the Save Our Bahamas vote no committee would like to point out that it never said that it was against equality for Bahamian men, women and children," the group said.
"We simply do not believe that this is the purpose of bill number four."
Save Our Bahamas is led by Pastor 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.
Bill number four would make it unconstitutional to discriminate against someone based on sex.
But the pastors believe it would lead to same-sex marriage.
The group appeared to be responding to members of the government-backed YES Bahamas campaign -- led by Senate President Lady Sharon Wilson and former Senate President Lynn Holowesko -- which said in a statement on Monday that the pastors' opposition is "tantamount to a rejection of equal rights for our sons and daughters."
YES Bahamas insisted that the facts do not support the contention of the Save Our Bahamas group.
However, Save Our Bahamas reiterated its belief yesterday.
"As previously stated, we are convinced that given the precedent set in other nations, bill number four will open the door to legalizing same sex-marriage in The Bahamas," the statement said. "This view is reinforced by the refusal of the government to amend the Constitution of The Bahamas to define marriage as a union between a born male and a born female only."
The pastors are also pushing for a fifth bill, which would provide for a constitutional provision defining marriage as being between a man (who was born male) and a woman (who was born female).
Save Our Bahamas also requested that the government provide $100,000 in seed money to assist the vote no campaign just as the government is supporting the vote yes campaign.
Another group of prominent pastors has said it is "unacceptable and un-Christ-like" to deny Bahamians rights by voting against any of the gender equality questions in the June 7 referendum.
That group includes Senior Pastor at Mount Tabor Church Bishop Neil Ellis, Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder, Anglican Diocesan Bishop Laish Boyd, Chairman of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas Rev. Dr. William Thompson, Bishop Franklyn Ferguson of the Church of God of Prophecy, Pastor Ed Dorsett of East Street Gospel Chapel and Rev. Derrick Browne of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA).
While they do not represent any campaign, each stressed the importance of Bahamians supporting the bills, including question four.
During a press conference on Tuesday, those pastors urged Bahamians to seek out all the information they can to make an informed decision and "do the right thing".
The vote no campaign meanwhile is urging Bahamians to vote their conscience as it relates to the first three bills, which directly address citizenship matters.
Save Our Bahamas has not yet outlined a legal argument to support its opposition to bill number four. The group plans to hold a pastors forum today at Evangelistic Temple on Collins Avenue.
According to the statement from Save Our Bahamas, legal professionals as well as senior church leaders will address bill number four.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Click here to read more at The Nassau Guardian