Save Our Bahamas says don’t demonize Dame Joan
The pastors behind the Save Our Bahamas campaign have defended former Court of Appeal President Dame Joan Sawyer who was widely criticized over her admission that she had not read the four constitutional amendment questions and if she were to vote, she would vote against them.
In a statement, the members of Save Our Bahamas said they, like most Bahamians, appreciate and respect the right of Dame Joan to voice her opinion on the upcoming referendum.
“We believe that she has earned the respect of her country and the right as a Bahamian to speak on any national issue without being demonized simply because she does not agree with the position of the government and the vote yes campaign.
“After all, we believe that Dame Sawyer is eminently qualified to interpret the constitution of The Bahamas, having served as the first Bahamian female chief justice of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the first Bahamian female president of the Court of Appeal.
“Save Our Bahamas Vote No Committee would like to remind the government as well as members of the vote yes campaign that The Bahamas is a democratic nation and as such the views of all citizens should be heard and respected.”
The group opposes bill number four, which seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.
Members of Save Our Bahamas include Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church, Pastor Lyall Bethel of Grace Community Church, Rev. Alfred Stewart of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Kevin “Minister K” Harris, a well-known talk show host.
The pastors contend the amendment would lead to same-sex marriage in The Bahamas.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Dame Joan described the referendum as a “waste of time”.
She admitted that she had not seen any of the questions and she’s “really only going on” what she read in the newspapers.
Her statement has received strong backlash from several parliamentarians, including Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, who said this week that she was “taken aback” and found it “a little bewildering” that Dame Joan made such an assessment, having not read the questions.
YES Bahamas Co-Chair Lynn Holowesko said on Tuesday that she was disappointed by the former Court of Appeal president’s statements, which she called “callous and uninformed”.
Holowesko reminded Dame Joan that Bahamian men and women look up to people like her, who have achieved so much and have been so highly honored, and said her statement was disappointing.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave, who spoke to The Guardian in Parliament Square on Monday, expressed shock over Dame Joan’s statements and said, “That’s not the Dame [Joan] Sawyer that I know”.
The religious community remains split on the referendum.
Bill one would enable a child born outside The Bahamas to become a citizen at birth if either his or her mother or father is a citizen of The Bahamas by birth.
Bill two would allow a Bahamian woman who marries a foreign man to pass on citizenship to him in the same way that a Bahamian man who marries a foreign woman is able to do now.
Bill three would allow an unmarried Bahamian man to pass on his citizenship to his child born to a foreign mother subject to legal proof that he is the father.