NASSAU — Prime Minister Perry Christie says the proposed referendum to amend the constitution will not allow for same sex marriages to become legal in The Bahamas.
Christie launched the YES Bahamas Campaign “Equal Rights for our Sons and Daughters” on Sunday, telling his audience that the Bahamas will only recognize marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The referendum will be held on June 7.
“I repeat: this referendum will not cause same-sex marriage to become legal in The Bahamas. Marriage in The Bahamas will be legal only if it is between a man and a woman, and male and female are determined at birth,” he said.
“I am so emphatic because it is so important for Bahamians to vote on what is really at stake — equal rights for our sons and daughters — and not let false rumours or incorrect information hold sway.
“This referendum does not seek to change Bahamian society or our traditional values, instead, it seeks to change the constitution so that it more clearly reflects those values, and our shared belief in fairness,” he explained.
Prime Minister Christie said that the YES Bahamas Campaign will be relying on Bahamians young and old for their creativity and enthusiasm, visiting each of our islands, and providing information to Bahamians on each of the amendments.
He said that the Constitutional Commission will continue a very intense schedule of information sessions leading up to the June 7 referendum, adding that in carrying out its work, the commission will continue to operate independently and with neutrality.
“It’s job is to educate, not to advocate for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote,” he added.
Prime Minister Christie said that the referendum was necessary to change the 1973 Constitution, which currently prevents Parliament from passing laws which would discriminate based on race or creed or place of origin.
But, he said that the framers of the constitution “did not include sex, that is,
they did not insert any language in the constitution which would prevent Parliament from passing laws which discriminate against men or women.
“This referendum is simply about bringing our constitution up to date to reflect our shared values as a society. Men and women will always be different, and no law or change to the constitution could or should ever change that –– in fact, we celebrate our differences –– but we do believe that as citizens who share the same responsibilities, the time has come for men and women, our sons and daughters, to share the same rights.”
Last month, the Parliament approved the necessary legislation, including one that will allow children born abroad to obtain Bahamian citizenship from either their Bahamian father or mother, in those circumstances where the other parent is not Bahamian.
Christie said that at present, only Bahamian men are entitled to pass their Bahamian citizenship to their children born abroad in these situations.
He said the amendment states Bahamian mothers and their children should have the same rights as Bahamian fathers and their children.
Prime Minister Christie said that the June 7 referendum will allow for Bahamians to vote on four common sense changes to the constitution, “so that Bahamian men and women are able to pass citizenship to their families in the same way, and so that it will be impossible for any future Parliament to pass laws discriminating against either men
“I want to be clear: these bills do not propose radical change. Instead, this is about making sure that the supreme law of the land reflects our values and our commitment to fairness,” he added.