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Pm: It’S Time To Vote Yes

Prime Minister Perry Christie taking part in the Labour Day parade through downtown Nassau. 
Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

Prime Minister Perry Christie taking part in the Labour Day parade through downtown Nassau. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

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WHERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE (Click image to enlarge)

The wording of the four Bills in the Constitutional Referendum

Bill 1: Approval of alteration to Article 8 and the repeal of Article 9 of the Constitution.

Do you approve of The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014?

Under the proposed change to the Constitution, a child born outside of The Bahamas would, after the coming into operation of this amendment, become a Bahamian citizen at birth if either its mother or father is a citizen of The Bahamas by birth.

Yes [ ] No [ ]

Bill 2: Approval of alteration to Article 10 of the Constitution.

Do you approve of The Constitution (Amendment) (No 2) Bill, 2014?

Under this proposed change to the Constitution, the foreign spouse of a Bahamian citizen would, after the coming into operation of this Article, be entitled to apply for and obtain citizenship subject to satisfying:

(i) existing national security or public policy considerations; and

(ii) new provisions guarding against marriages of convenience.

Yes [ ] No [ ]

Bill 3: Approval of alteration to Article 14 of the Constitution.

Do you approve of The Constitution (Amendment) (No 3) Bill, 2014?

Under this proposed change to the Constitution, a Bahamian father of a person born out wedlock after the coming into operation of this amendment would be able to pass his citizenship to that person subject to legal proof that he is the father.

Yes [ ] No [ ]

Bill 4: Approval of alteration to Article 26 of the Constitution.

Do you approve of The Constitution (Amendment) (No 4) Bill, 2014?

Under this proposed change to the Constitution, it would be unlawful to discriminate based on “sex”, which would be defined as “being male or female”.

Yes [ ] No [ ]

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie last night urged voters to support Tuesday’s referendum, insisting that the idea of a “hidden agenda” involving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community “is crazy.”

He stressed that gay rights were “not on the ballot” adding that he hoped Bahamians would grow tired of the “paranoid” voices in this debate.

He also hit out at what he called “defamatory” statements made about him by Dame Joan Sawyer, who suggested recently that he has advocated for a LGBT agenda.

His statement came a day after he told a crowd in Bimini that religious groups who have recently taken issue with the referendum were given adequate time to review the four Constitutional Amendment Bills prior to their passage in the House of Assembly.

In a last ditch effort to clear up ambiguity on the referendum, Mr Christie’s statement on Sunday night said it is important to understand what is on the ballot and what is at stake.

“The only question before the Bahamian people is whether as citizens of our nation, men and women should have equal rights,” Mr Christie’s statement said. “The first three bills would change the Constitution so that Bahamian men and women would have the right to share citizenship with their family members in the same way. The fourth bill would give both Bahamian men and women a new right to be treated equally under our nation’s laws.

“The idea that there is a hidden agenda is crazy,” the statement added. “Perhaps the most compelling evidence of there being no hidden agenda lies in the fact that the selection of the gender equality topic was at the insistence of the Official Opposition, whose leader made it clear that the only basis upon which he would extend the support of his party for a bipartisan campaign would be if the first round of constitutional reform was limited to the gender equality issue. In that circumstance, only mischief-makers, who seek to distract and detract from the importance of equality for our sons and daughters, could suggest that the government is moving in furtherance of a hidden agenda.”

Mr Christie’s statement said while there is no legal basis to support the theory that bill four would lead to same-sex marriage, he understands the concern coming from a small, Christian nation.

However, he stressed that in spite of what is happening around the world, “we must not have same-sex marriage in our country.”

“I would not be supporting bill four if it would change marriage in the Bahamas,” the prime minister’s statement said. “Contrary to the egregiously false and defamatory statement made by Dame Joan Sawyer, I do not and have never advocated for an LGBT agenda. It is wrong and unfair to associate me with such a thought.

“In fact, bill four will offer new protections in our Constitution to our law that says marriage must be between a man and a woman. The top lawyers in our country worked carefully with the religious leaders in the Christian community to ensure that bill four would not change marriage, and as a result, bill four has the support of the leaders representing nearly 80 per cent of the nation’s Christian community.

So, those who continue to spread fears are now being reckless with the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Mr Christie said he hoped Bahamians would not listen to “paranoid” voices but instead focus on the stories of those who have been disadvantaged by the inequality in the Constitution.

“So, I want all the citizens of this nation to be clear – gay rights is not on the ballot, politicians are not on the ballot, judges and lawyers are not on the ballot. The only thing on the ballot is you - your rights, and the rights of your sons and daughters. The only question you have to answer is: should our sons and daughters be equal as Bahamian citizens, in our Constitution and under our laws?

“As a people with a legacy of suffering from racial injustices, it is my hope that we will not turn our backs on this opportunity to expand rights and dignity in our beloved Bahamas.”

A day earlier, Mr Christie told a crowd in Bimini that his administration did all it could to ensure that every sector of society had an opportunity to review the constitutional bills and give recommendations, including members of the religious community.

Mr Christie went on to stress the magnitude of the looming vote, saying: “Once it is done, it is done.”

“The leaders of church groups… sat in my office and (were) given every opportunity to say what they had to and they heard me say what my positions are,” Mr Christie said on Saturday. “So for me and this Commonwealth of the Bahamas, I say to God be the glory.

“The government of the Bahamas, twinned with the opposition party of the Bahamas, at every step of the way we agreed together on matters. Then we brought to the church, the whole church and gave the full church an opportunity to sit in a room with us to make whatever observations they wanted,” he added.

“I have taken this opportunity to urge all citizens regardless of political or religious persuasion to vote ‘yes’ to all four amendments in the interest of deepening our traditional democracy, ensuring equal rights for all, strengthening of families and the realisation of our full potential as a progressive nation through the exercise of our God-given rights.”

The Christie administration has endured heavy-criticism for its handling of the referendum to date.

Opponents of a ‘yes’ vote have pointed to flaws in the wording of the amendments, particularly as it relates to bill four.

Mr Christie has gone on the defensive on several occasions to defend the constitutional bills, at times making his frustrations with the ordeal known to members of the press.

Early last month, Mr Christie insisted that same-sex marriage would never happen in the Bahamas during his lifetime, adding that he was “almost embarrassed by” this line of thinking over the referendum.

His statement came as debate raged over the implications of bill four, which some have said would open the door to same-sex union within the Bahamas.

On Saturday, Mr Christie addressed the conjecture surrounding the four constitutional bills, highlighting that they were “simply calculated to ensure that our sons and our daughters share equally under rights in our Constitution.”

Advance polls for the referendum commenced last Monday across the country and at various international locations.

Last week, Parliamentary Commissioner Sherlyn Hall said only 43 per cent of the people eligible to vote in the advance poll in New Providence turned up.

Comments

Sickened 3 years, 8 months ago

I guess he doesn't want to marry any of his boyfriends. Fred can't be happy about that.

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ThisIsOurs 3 years, 8 months ago

Why don't they let people vote in peace already??? If you hold a referendum so "I" can voice my opinion, then don't tell me how I should vote or make me feel guilty for voting either way. Enough already. And for God's sake don't show up in any vote X shirts outside the polls watching people.

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Thumbelina242 3 years, 8 months ago

@ThisIsOurs. ....MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!!

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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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Calypso 3 years, 8 months ago

Please elaborate on how your own rights will be jeopardized if those (who you admit have been discriminated against) receive access to the basic human rights they have been fighting for.

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watcher 3 years, 8 months ago

I guess if the No votes win Christie will just ignore the results, same as he did with the numbers referendum?

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truetruebahamian 3 years, 8 months ago

This is supposed to be non political. I see yellow shirts, which by the very fact that they are on the front page adds the unwanted political factor. Even though I will be voting yes on all four, some people will vote no bythe mere fact that they are responding against the political colours being shown. It would be very counter productive should political colours be worn at the voting stations.

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SP 3 years, 8 months ago

...................................... What has Christie succeeded at since 2012? ...............................

As unpopular as PGC is across the board, why would he think the result of this referendum would return a different result than any of his other many failures?

PLP 2012 "Bahamians First" slogan obviously was just a deceitful slogan for PGC & crew of pirates, however, Bahamians believed, took it to heart, and were crushed underfoot by this government more than at any other time in living memory.

General consensus is the electorate will unanimously reject all four bills with a resounding 4 to 1 NO vote and send a clear and concise message of displeasure with this cloak and digger, smoke and mirrors, deceitful, untrustworthy PLP administration.

Do your part to get PM PGC 's misguided attention. VOTE NO to all 4 bills!

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viewersmatters 3 years, 8 months ago

do not allow what this or any other Government cause anyone to vote with resentment or hate, for no one should be forcing a yes or no vote down anyone throat, this is our constitutional voting rights and rather we vote yes or no not a single voter should be discriminated on the way they choice to exercise their voting rights. So Please Bahamians vote for what you think is best for our country and our nation, me myself isnt going to vote based of the negative affect from the Government or the yes or no vote champagners but am voting for my generations yet to come to have a future in their home town and to be the leaders of this great nation and not be a follower for anyone who wishes to reside in the Bahamas, but let our kinds and grand kids be the leader and have a future in the Bahamas give them a chance to be put first in the country which they are and would grow up in.

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B_I_D___ 3 years, 8 months ago

I stole this from another news feed...sorry BN...

Statement by Hon. Perry Christie MP Leader of the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party On Referendum Victory Sir Lynden O. Pindling Center Nassau, Bahamas February 28, 2002

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for coming here this morning. Let me say, firstly, how grateful we are to Almighty God for the events that have transpired in this country over the last twenty-four hours.It was a magnificent victory for the people of The Bahamas.They are the true and only winners in yesterday’s referendum. I am especially gratified that the Bahamian people have spoken in such resounding numbers.I believe that they understood our position and why we arrived at that position.I am satisfied that my personal position has been vindicated.

I would like to thank our religious and civic leaders for speaking out so wisely and courageously to the Bahamian people on the referendum issues and the flawed process the Government was following.I would especially like to salute His Grace archbishop Gomez; the President of the Bahamas Christian Council, Bishop Greene; Bishop Neil C. Ellis; and reverend Dr. William Thompson who, with many other leaders, both religious and civic, gave good counsel to the Bahamian people.

(CONTINUED IN NEXT POST>>>)

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B_I_D___ 3 years, 8 months ago

Statement by Hon. Perry Christie MP Leader of the Opposition Progressive Liberal Party On Referendum Victory Sir Lynden O. Pindling Center Nassau, Bahamas February 28, 2002

There are some important lessons to be learned from yesterday’s referendum. Firstly, the results demonstrate that the Bahamian people are not “dump and stupid” as some of our national leaders would have is believe.Rather, the Bahamian people demonstrated yesterday that they can separate fact from fiction and that they can and will make up their minds intelligently and rationally based on what they honestly believe to be in their best interests and the best interests of our nation.

Secondly, the results demonstrate just how important and sacred the Bahamian people regard their constitution.It is their constitution; their contract with each other.And the clear and unmistakable signal that the Bahamian people telegraphed yesterday is that they do not want any Government messing with “their things” unless they, the people, are fully includedin the process of constitutional reform from start to finish – and that the process of constitutional reform must never be rushed.

Thirdly, I believe that yesterday’s results demonstrate that Bahamians, both black and white, found common cause to beat back the Government’s referendum objectives.This should stand as a less on to those who arrogantly presumed to speak on behalf of white Bahamians.Their authority to do so was eloquently repudiated yesterday when white Bahamians joined with their black compatriots in defeating the government in the referendum.

Finally, it is regrettable that the Prime Minister said this morning that he is happy that by contending for a yes vote he will be remembered as being on the right side of history.The implication of that statement was that the Bahamian people, by voting No, were on the wrong side of history. Speaking for myself, it satisfies me to know that I was on the side of the people.

But now is not the time to gloat. It is the country that has won. And we are all the better for it.

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SP 3 years, 8 months ago

........................................ Referendum True Confession ............................................

I humble myself and come out as having predetermined convictions to vote no on all four bills.

However, after actually entering the polling booth, prayerfully examining each question on the ballot in private, I decided to vote NO on all four bills instead.

This is the type double talk, balderdash, flimflam, baloney, rigmarole, and absolute equivocation Perry Christie has played on us since 2012 starting with his total deceptiveness of "Bahamians First"!

Back at you PGC, & we're not done with you yet

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Canucksailor 3 years, 8 months ago

We had this issue in Canada some years ago - our Prime Minister and Minister of Justice said, at the time, that marriage was between a man and a woman solely. Well, the politicians lied to us - just as yours are likely lying to you now. A politician's promise has as much value as your footsteps in the sand at low tide - it won't matter in a few hours. When you vote, keep that fact in mind - there IS an agenda, you ARE being lied to. Just look at countries like mine where transgender people can go into the washroom they wish. That wasn't on any ballot 15 - 20 years ago, but it's the law in Ontario now. Don't let these people fool you too. It's one thing to treat gay people as humans - it's another to give them rights that ignore common sense, human decency and morality, and for those who believe, God's Word.

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PKMShack 3 years, 8 months ago

Perry call election so we could fu... you over one last time like you been fu...ing the country over for the past several years. GOODBYE PLP we thank you please thank us WE THE PEOPLE!

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