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Editorial: If You Have A Conscience, Vote ‘Yes’ For June 7 Referendum

BISHOP Walter Hanchell, instead of encouraging a “yes” vote on June 7th in the constitutional referendum that will at last give equal rights to Bahamian men and women, has chosen to play on the fears of insecure Bahamian men by warning that if Bahamian women’s foreign husbands were to be given status on marriage it would encourage an “influx” of foreign men using Bahamian women as a “ticket” to get work.

There was a time under the Pindling government when a Bahamian woman – unlike her male counterpart — who married a foreigner would leave The Bahamas because her husband had no right to residence and, therefore, could not work here to support his family. During that era, we knew of several unhappy Bahamian families, who had chosen to remain. However, in those cases, the Bahamian mother had to go out to earn the living, while her foreign husband stayed at home to do the housework.

In other cases, politics destroyed many marriages. In one case, a Turks Island husband was banned from Inagua, where he had lived all his life, because his Bahamian wife refused to support the PLP. We shall recount many of these heartbreaking stories so that Bahamians, who did not have to suffer such hell, will understand how many Bahamian marriages were destroyed and families torn apart by politics. This political cruelty was enabled by a law that denied Bahamian women the same nationality rights for her husband and children as that held as of right by her male counterpart. Bitter children of these suffering marriages were left to pass their hatred down through the generations. How often have we heard a child, now grown to adulthood describe their hatred for the PLP. They declare that they will tell their story from generation to generation so that none of their heirs will ever make the mistake of supporting the PLP. How many times have we heard young men comment, “I shall never vote for them because of the way they treated ‘my grammy’”.

A “yes” vote on June 7th would remove this inequality and the power of ruthless politicians over the personal lives of citizens. We do not understand persons like Bishop Hanchell, who must know of whereof we write, but who would retain this inequality for women, leaving them at the mercy of spiteful politicians.

On Tuesday, June 7, Bahamians will vote for four Bills.

• The first Bill will give a Bahamian woman the same rights as a Bahamian man to pass on citizenship to her children born outside of The Bahamas.

• Bill two would give a Bahamian woman the same rights as a Bahamian man to pass on citizenship to her foreign husband.

• Bill three would give a Bahamian father the same rights as a Bahamian mother to pass on citizenship to his child born out of wedlock, provided there was proof of paternity.

• The final bill would make it unconstitutional to discriminate on the grounds of sex, meaning male or female.

Although there has been some opposition to bills one, two and three, the main opposition is to the fourth bill, which many Bahamians claim will lead to the approval of homosexual marriages.

This bill will not do that — already on our statute books there is a definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. However, despite initially supporting this bill, human rights activist Erin Greene has now withdrawn her support. Her new position is that if bill four were passed, “we run the risk of erasing intersex people from the law”.

Although nothing in these bills will open the door for homosexual marriages, this is a subject that Bahamians will have to face sometime in the future. Don’t forget that the newly-appointed secretary general of the Commonwealth— Baroness Scotland — has announced that she will spend the first two years in her new post persuading the 40-member Commonwealth to decriminalise homosexuality. So the subject will probably come up at that time in the future, but for the present same sex marriage will not enter through any of these four bills. So don’t use that as an excuse to vote “no”.

The stories that we shall tell happened during the Pindling era. However, when the Ingraham administration entered, this particular practice against foreign husbands was softened to protect marriages. It was also designed to lessen the possibility of marriages of convenience. A Bahamian woman could apply for a five-year spousal permit for her foreign husband. During this period, he did not need a work permit to get a job to support his family. At the end of the five-year period, if the marriage had proved to be sound, the husband became a permanent resident with all the rights of a citizen. However, since the return of the PLP in 2012 — the party that caused the defeat of the first referendum only because it had been launched by the FNM — did some tinkering. We know of a Bahamian woman whose husband had completed his five-year residency in 2012. During this time, a son was born. In every way, the couple had a sound marriage. But what were they told? The PLP had changed the rules. It seems that the five-year probation period will never end. In other words, their marriage is existing from five years to five years. At the end of every five years, they have to make a trip to immigration to prove that they are still together and apply for another five-year period. At the end of every five years, they have to pay a stipend.

If this demeaning situation seems fair to Bahamians, then vote “no” to putting a Bahamian woman on the same level with the Bahamian male. If they have the decency to understand the unfairness of this situation, then they should vote “yes” for the referendum, especially to give a Bahamian woman the same rights as a Bahamian man to pass on citizenship to her foreign husband and her children born outside of the Bahamas. In fact, they should vote “yes’ to all four bills.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 10 months ago

The Tribune's editor has a forked tongue; and may as well have pointed ears and horns coming out of her forehead! Is the Tribune really so "liberally" bent that its editor is now blind to the underlying and very undesirable motives behind the four proposed amendments? Thankfully most Bahamian voters do not share the Tribune's view and are smart enough to know why they must vote "NO" to all four of the proposed amendments.

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baclarke 3 years, 10 months ago

The author of this article fails to realize what myself an many others have been saying. There is more than one way to accomplish the goal of giving women equal rights to males in this country. Most Bahamians will vote yes on the first 3 bills which will fix the major identified areas of inequality. However, many Bahamians, perhaps the majority, do not believe that enacting the fourth amendment in the constitution is the best way to go. Just how we have a marriage act, why not create an equality act? and simply continue to build on it. Don't put something, that can possibly be reinterpreted later since language is subject to change and reinterpretation, into our precious constitution that will be impossible to change in the future moving forward.

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Economist 3 years, 10 months ago

Pray tell what are the undesirable motives? Give us the details on say number one and number two.

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Reality_Check 3 years, 10 months ago

Mudda_sic is right and you're dead wrong. Take number two for example. Harvey Tynes QC has already pointed out that a foreign man should not be able to acquire Bahamian citizenship and the right to vote just by marrying a Bahamian woman. This grave mistake would only serve to amplify the serious mistake that already exists in our constitution whereby a foreign women marrying a Bahamian man automatically acquires Bahamian citizenship. The act of marriage should not be synonymous with obtaining citizenship and voting rights. These are two very different things and two wrongs certainly do not make a right. If anything, our constitution should be amended to remove the original mistake so that a woman does not automatically acquires citizenship and voting rights upon marrying a Bahamian man. The other three proposed amendments all carrying equally serious unfavourable consequences for our country and the way of life of Bahamians. Like Mudda_take_sic, I am compelled to vote "NO" for all four of the proposed amendments and you would be wise to do likewise.

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Economist 3 years, 10 months ago

RealityCheck, I take it you believe in Christian values. Take number One for example.

You are saying that you reward the Bahamian woman who has children out of wedlock, but punish her is she marries and has her children legitimately.

You say if you fornicate or commit adultery we will reward you. But you say, "How dare you get married and have children in wedlock, I must punish you".

At the moment, if a Bahamian woman has the child out of wedlock the child gets automatic citizenship.

If a Bahamian woman has a child in wedlock you punish her by refusing her children automatic citizenship

And we call ourselves a Christian nation.

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Reality_Check 3 years, 10 months ago

Stop being such an idiot. What I've been saying all along (like Mudda_take_sic) is don't exacerbated or compound existing serious problems with our constitution by foolishly voting "YES" to any of the four proposed amendments.

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Economist 3 years, 10 months ago

Stop being such a bigot. You sound like one of those hick white "red necks" in the US who think all black people are stupid and they should stay at the back of the bus.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 9 months ago

Ahhh, the infamous bigot card.... always played as a last resort by weak minds, much like the race card!

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 10 months ago

.............. and if you can read Article 15 of the Constitution and have any common sense .. Vote NO

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Economist 3 years, 10 months ago

You need to read the Court of Appeal ruling on Article 15.

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sheeprunner12 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you ........ and what is the Privy Council's ruling??????

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 10 months ago

If I trusted the government to not continue the rule by trickery pattern, I would vote yes. Unfortunately they've created a huge mess, they should have listened to the constitutional committee that THEY convened and made the questions less messy. I can't trust them after the BAMSI yes they had insurance, the Fitzgerald Rubis I must save my own skin but I can reveal everyone else's info and certainly not after the man who got the Rolex watch and the alleged 5000 per contract extortion fee, was granted free reign of the biggest cash pot in the country.

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Economist 3 years, 10 months ago

Read Article 54. Especially Article 54(b)' Article 54(d)(I) and Article 54(d)(ii).

The Government cannot amend any of the Articles, affected by the Referendum, on its own.

This is not like the Numbers.

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Reality_Check 3 years, 9 months ago

Geeezzz....you really are an idiot if you believe our government had any right to defy the wishes of the Bahamian people regarding the gaming web shops as was expressed in a duly convened national referendum.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 9 months ago

They've told me time and time again that they put their interest above the nation's interest and that they will use all manner of subterfuge to achieve it. I don't believe they give two hoots about women.

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SP 3 years, 9 months ago

NO "Bahamians First"! & Voting ‘NO’ For June 7 Referendum. We'er all out of conscience!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 8 months ago

For the record, I will be voting a resounding "No!" to all four of the bills in tomorrow's referendum. Like most Bahamians I am only intolerant of others who seek to impinge on my rights, my freedoms and my way of life as a Bahamian. This bucket obviously does not include the vast majority of Bahamian men or Bahamian women, but it does include the many thousands of foreigners who are willing to sell their loyalty to the PLP (or FNM for that matter) in exchange for our government (with its hidden agenda) granting them Bahamian citizenship or permanent resident status. And this bucket certainly does include the very loud few in the global LGBT movement who seek to impose their way of life on others under the pretense of the rest of us (the 98+% of us) discriminating against them. The vast majority of Bahamians (both men and women) should not have to give up any of their rights, freedoms and beliefs, nor compromise in any way their way of life, simply because a small few in our society falsely accuse them of being somehow discriminatory. I, along with the other 98+% of Bahamians, have rights too!

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