By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts said the Save Our Bahamas group did not have any evidence to support its opposition of the fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill.
Mr Roberts said the religious group did not have a good reason for opposing the bill, which seeks to end discrimination in the Constitution based on sex. Questions based on the four bills will be put to the electorate in a referendum.
He urged Bahamians to pay close attention to the facts so as not to get distracted by the “tremendous amount” of misinformation that will be placed in the public domain.
Mr Roberts said all Bahamians that love freedom and equality should vote yes at the polls on June 7.
“A group of ministers of the gospel known as the Save Our Bahamas Committee are urging Bahamians to vote ‘no’ on bill number four because they claim the passage of this bill will open the Bahamas up to same sex marriage,” he said.
“The problem is, like all of the other critics, the committee has failed to offer a scintilla of evidence based in Bahamian law.
“The committee makes no reference to our 1973 independence Constitution, particularly our Matrimonial Causes Act which in fact saves bill number four from the very same thing critics are arguing bill number four will open the Bahamas up to.”
He added: “Accusing our parliamentarians of hiding behind the judiciary is not a good reason for opposing bill number four.”
He spoke at the monthly meeting of the party’s Fox Hill branch on Monday night, where he expressed his support and endorsement of MP Fred Mitchell in the 2017 general election.
The Save Our Bahamas Committee - the group that opposed the 2013 gambling referendum - launched a vote no campaign against the fourth Constitutional Amendment Bill on Sunday. The group consists of Mario Moxey, pastor of Bahamas Harvest Church; Lyall Bethel, pastor of Grace Community Church; Minister Kevin Harris; Alfred Stewart, senior pastor at New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church; and Geoffrey Wood, senior pastor of Temple Baptist Church.
The committee urged voters against being duped by the government’s “diabolical” plot to allow for same-sex marriage under the guise of gender equality. The committee said it was convinced, given the precedent set in other countries, that the fourth bill would open the door to legalising same-sex marriage in the Bahamas despite the government’s continued assurance that it would not.
The government has maintained that the controversial amendment would not lead to same-sex marriage, stating that it would ensure that Bahamian men and women were equal under the law. By law, under the Matrimonial Causes Act, marriage in the Bahamas must be between a man and a woman.
Bishop Walter Hanchell of Great Commission Church has also formed a group, Citizens for Justice, which opposes both the fourth and second bills.
The second amendment would give the foreign spouse of a Bahamian woman the same right to apply for citizenship that the foreign wife of a Bahamian man enjoys. However, citizenship would not be granted automatically and the couple would have to prove that the marriage is not one of convenience.
Mr Roberts also said: “I urge all Bahamians to look clearly and closely at the facts in making their decisions as there will be a tremendous amount of misinformation placed in the public domain over the course of this YES Bahamas campaign and so Bahamians must remain focused and vigilant.
“We are all freedom loving people and that treacherous journey to social justice particularly between 1834 and 1967 culminated in a very hard fought victory and we cannot and must not turn the clock back on human rights and equality.
“I support more rights for all Bahamians, not less rights and I support these four bills without reservation because their passage will make us all equal under our Constitution,” Mr Roberts added.