By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER PLP Cabinet Minister George Smith said all government MPs should “fall in line” and support the Christie administration as it attempts to pass the four gender equality bills to amend the Constitution.
Yesterday, Mr Smith told The Tribune that he was not impressed with the public positions of three PLPs - Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, Marco City MP Greg Moss and Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins who have each passionately opposed the bills during debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.
Mr Smith said while it was acceptable for each of the MPs to differ, breaking the party’s position if needed should only be on principle and not for shallow reasons.
“They must face their responsibility in terms of what is doable and what is right for the country,” Mr Smith said.
“I think each of the three of them should fall in line with the party. If they differ it should be on principle alone. When a man differs he should have a matter of deep-rooted principle not just on, for example, the wording of something. They need to come up with better arguments.
“Those who are reaching on the gay marriage issue and the insertion of the word ‘sex’ into Article 26, they are being extremely disingenuous.”
During debate on Wednesday Dr Rollins, Mr Wells and Mr Moss clashed with their party as they disagreed with the proposed Constitutional amendments.
Dr Rollins said his convictions on the bills are so strong that he was prepared to step down as government whip in Parliament if his recommendations for changes were not factored into bills.
“I fully expect that if this is taken to a vote as it is today, I can no longer and I am prepared to no longer serve as government whip. Because if the government expects that it has the unanimous support of this side, this side being the government’s side, and I cannot accede to those wishes, I am prepared to step aside. That would be the right thing to do,” he said.
During his contribution to the debate, Mr Moss said while he supported the first bill, it was unfortunate that it would not be retroactive.
The bill would enable a child born outside the Bahamas to a Bahamian woman and her foreign husband to have automatic Bahamian citizenship at birth. Only those born in another country to a Bahamian father are able to take automatic Bahamian status, but not if the father is non-Bahamian and the mother is Bahamian.
Mr Moss said he would not support the second bill because he felt that no person who marries a Bahamian should get automatic Bahamian citizenship. However, this prompted Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell to rise several times to explain that under Bahamian law, no foreign spouse gets automatic citizenship upon marriage and that the process is subject to approval.
But Mr Moss said he completely supported the third bill which would give an unwed Bahamian father the same right to pass citizenship to his child that a Bahamian woman has always had under the Constitution in relation to a child born to her out of wedlock.
Both Mr Moss and Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells have said that they cannot support bill four because of fears it would legalise gay marriage.