By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT of the Bahamas Global Impact Prayer and Fasting Network (BGI-PAFN) Jeremiah Duncombe yesterday said there is no need for the constitutional referendum scheduled for June 7, as the government is “fully capable” of amending the Constitution to show gender equality “all on its own.”
The group is seeking to protect the religious values enshrined in the preamble of the country’s Constitution.
According to the retired pastor, the amendments proposed in bills one, two and three can all be “written into being” by the government without affecting the present structure of the country’s Constitution and its preamble.
BGI-PAFN intends to lead a national “Daniel Fast” – 40 days of prayer, fasting, thanksgiving and repentance – to “steady the minds of the voting public” ahead of the June 7 referendum.
“If those bills are changed, fundamentally it will require re-editing of the preamble and so we are not supporting it at all,” Mr Duncombe said.
“We are saying that there is no need for the referendum as being proposed. The government can give an administrative order to give citizenship to any group it wants. Therefore this is a waste of time and money.
“There are groups, religious, non-religious - we want all to come out and participate. There is a lot of confusion surrounding the first three bills, we want to host a platform where persons in search of knowledge and understanding can come,” he said.
“We want persons from both sides of the aisle on this matter to come out. We will allow a space for them to make the points known and see how we can all come together and determine some consensus on bills one to and three.”
In terms of bill four, the amendment attempting to remove all forms of discrimination based on sex from the Constitution, Mr Duncombe said the BGI-PAFN has concluded that the bill would open the door to same-sex marriage.
He said the Christie administration has been forced into its current position by international civic-bodies pressed to end discriminatory actions towards persons within the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“When (our leaders) go off to all of those international meetings and forums, our country is viewed as old-fashioned. We are black-eyed and acknowledged as a backward society. Our religious practices and beliefs are said to infringe on the basic rights of gay and lesbians,” he said.
“That is what they want to change. These big, strong international bodies want us to conform to their views on same-sex marriages. That’s the issue with bill four. Our government sees it as a way to make that a possibility. Lawyers are confused on this because they understand what it poses. It leaves it to a legal debate. Legally, it leaves the decision up to the courts - international courts that would rule in favour of international beliefs and values,” he added.
The BGI-PAFN will start its prayer and fasting exercise on Friday in Rawson Square.