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Barnett expects gay marriage issue soon

Sir Michael: It’s only a matter of time
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Feb 18, 2013

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Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett has predicted that the Bahamian courts will soon have to address the issue of same-sex marriages.

“I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time when the courts of The Bahamas will address the issue of same sex marriage,” said Sir Michael at a Bar Association luncheon at the Sheraton Resort on Friday.  “I also have no doubt that in deciding the issue we will have respect for the decisions that emanate not only from the Commonwealth countries like Canada and Australia, but also from decisions of the courts of the Unites States of America.

“But our references to the views of justices of the United States are not limited to referring to those decisions in our own judgments.”

Canada legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, while the Australian Parliament has proposed bills on the table to allow for same-sex marriages. Several states in the United States also allow same-sex marriages.

Sir Michael noted that the U.S. and The Bahamas share many commonalities.

“Based on its proximity to the United States, commerce, trade and tourism link our respective economies,” he said.

“More and more citizens of both our countries are finding it necessary to resort to the courts of our countries to resolve the disputes that inevitably arise.

“Ours is an ever shrinking global village. The problems that affect the lives of our citizens and the residents of our respective countries have more in common than there are differences.

“Our respective countries both have written constitutions that protect our human rights. Our citizens and visitors look to us, the justices of court, to protect these rights. Little justice is served by reinventing the wheel.

“Our task as justices is helped by looking to our colleagues of different countries to see how they have considered and dealt with the problems.”

Sir Michael added that the increased use of the Internet makes that task of researching similar cases easy to achieve.

Sir Michael’s comments came two weeks after Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd recommended the constitution be amended to reflect that no one should be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.

Boyd, who presented his recommendations to the Constitutional Commission on February 1, also wants the terms of discrimination expanded under Article 26 (3) to include protection from discrimination on the grounds of language, disability or medical condition.

However, Boyd said he does not believe same sex marriage should be included.

While same sex marriages are not permitted in The Bahamas, some homosexual Bahamians have married abroad.

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