Friday, May 13, 2016

What is this referendum all about? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

What is this referendum all about?
Under our Constitution, Bahamian men and women do not have equal rights. This referendum will change that - so that all Bahamians have the right to pass citizenship to their family members in the same way, and so Parliament cannot create any new laws that discriminate against men or women. These simple changes will ensure greater fairness and equal rights for our sons and daughters. 

Why should The Bahamas make these changes?
Men and women have the same responsibilities as citizens - for example, everyone pays taxes in the same way - so they should have the same rights, too.  We all want our sons and daughters to be treated fairly, and to have the same rights. 

Why should I participate in a vote?
This is a big moment for our country! It is not often that voters get to make history. This is an opportunity to put aside politics and do something important for our sons and daughters, the next generation. 

Will the Government be able to overturn the vote?
No. This is a different kind of referendum than the gaming referendum. This is a constitutional referendum, not a consultative one. This means legally, the people's voice is the final word. 

Will #4 affect marriage in The Bahamas?
No! The Matrimonial Clauses Act defines marriage in The Bahamas as one man and one woman, and Article 26(4)(c) protects this definition under the Constitution. It is also a matter of established law that your gender is established on your birth certificate. The ONLY purpose of amendment 4 is to give men and women equal rights. 

What does "equal rights" mean - that men and women are the same?
It means men and women are treated the same in our Constitution and under our laws. Men and women will always be different, and no Constitutional amendment will change that - we celebrate our differences. But when citizens share the same responsibilities, like paying taxes, they should also share the same rights.  

Don't Bahamian women already have the rights that men have?
Bahamian women have made great power, and amendment four would protect that progress, make sure we don't ever backslide as a nation. Politicians now have the power to pass laws that treat our sons and daughters differently when it comes to wages, job protections, inheritance, and more.  Amendment 4 would take that power away.

Where can I get more information/read the amendments?
Please attend an information session with the Constitutional Commission; they are traveling around the country making legal experts available to answer questions.  In addition, the text of the amendments and more information is available at