|Government against gay marriages|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jul 08, 2011
There will be no change to the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman under the Ingraham administration, Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said yesterday.
Laing’s comments came during debate on a Maritime Marriage Bill to legalize maritime marriages in Bahamian waters.
Laing said several pieces of legislation will be consolidated to clearly define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Laing said the Maritime Marriage Bill's purpose is two-fold: seeking to produce another source of revenue for The Bahamas and to facilitate the "dream to get married in The Bahamas" even if it is aboard a seagoing vessel.
However, the purpose of consolidating the four marriage acts currently under law is to weave the clause that ensures marriage is between a man and a woman into them collectively. The four acts of law pertaining to marriage are the Marriage Act, the Marriage of Deceased Wife's Sister Act, the Marriage of British Subjects Act and the Foreign Marriages Act.
"As a community in The Bahamas we believe that a marriage must and should be and is between a man and a woman," Laing said.
"A marriage is void if it took place between persons who were male and male or female and female. So, in this Maritime Marriage Bill we are stating this fact in the clear positive — a marriage must take place between a male and a female and we want that to be abundantly clear that, that is so and that is keeping with our community standard."
After the government recently backed a United Nations resolution in support of rights for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (GLBT) people, the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) condemned it as a possible “hidden agenda” which it feared could eventually lead to gay marriage.
The position of the BCC was that it supports the protection of everyone from all forms of discrimination, which the resolution offered.
However, it warned that The Bahamas government’s support of the UN resolution could open a spigot that allows for all rights afforded heterosexuals to be offered to GLBT people, including marriage.
The BCC insisted in its release that the institution of marriage should only be consecrated between a man and a woman.
Laing said the government considered the commercial and economic interests of recognizing marriages at sea, while remembering that the Christian convictions and the societal status quo with regard to marriage in this country had to be upheld — even at sea.
"In taking this decision we didn't do so lightly," Laing said.
"We wanted very deliberately to balance the commercial interest and advancement that could be afforded us by doing this, with our recognition that marriage, in the context of our Christian convictions broadly in this society, must be sanctified in a certain way and defined in a certain way.
"We wanted there to be no mistakes, notwithstanding the developing and evolving realities in the world in which we live, that in this country there is a standard, there is a set of communal convictions that govern our definition of marriage and the extent to which we sanctify it in this society."