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Patricia Glinton-Meicholas on the 2016 Bahamas Gender Equality Referendum
By Patricia Glinton-Meicholas
Jul 2, 2016 - 6:49:01 PM

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On June 7, 2016, you voted against yourselves, your children and your children’s children. That says it all about you and your regression from the brave, forward thinking of the Bahamian suffragettes. You chose to believe that Eve and her female offspring were cursed in Eden, not just to bear the pains of childbirth, but to remain forever inferior to men, subject to their abuse. Shame on you.

The ‘Christian’ Nation

While The Bahamas is a church-going nation, most Bahamians are not Christians, not followers of the loving Christ that I cling to. Most of my Bahamian people, who claim Christianity, have cobbled together a Frankenstein of a savior mainly from all the bloody eye-for-an-eye texts of the Old Testament and choice, out of context, maliciously interpreted verses of the second half of the Bible. You deny the Christ of the New Testament who is a God of love, a God of embrace, a God who says “Whosoever will may come”, a God who was accused of being a wine bibber, a Christ who dined with sinners and promised a woman of the streets that her name would be remembered throughout history for her love and humility.

That particular Christ is the one you keep in the closet of your Christianity, where you hold imprisoned from basic human rights your homosexual brethren, people of Haitian descent, foreigners who do not directly deposit money into your pocket and sundry other persons, whom you consign to the hell of your prejudices and greed.

You see, the Christ of the New Testament is one who heartily condemned the Pharisees, whose egotism and desire for prominence have lived through centuries to spawn many of the religious bigots you follow today. There is plenty of evidence to support my belief that some of the Bahamian pastors and their congregations who incited the resounding ‘no’ vote are the philosophical offspring of those who demanded that Christ be crucified when Pilate wanted to release him. Jesus had the effrontery to defy their legalism that shut the door to humanity, love, forgiveness and redemption.

And so do you, Christian nation.

So, how dare I believe that such religionists would consider worthy of love and equality the children born abroad of single Bahamian men, the children born abroad to Bahamian women married to foreign men, the children born in The Bahamas of Haitian parents, the people who are daily denied opportunities for equal pay, advancement of all kinds and even the right to live in peace and pursue personal happiness?

At the base of all this denial is hypocrisy. In your churches you cover up and condone fornication, adultery, large scale fraud, incest and various forms of domestic abuse. Worse still, in some cases, you follow pastors who have committed such infamies, yet you feel justified in pointing fingers and condemning.

How Christian are you churchgoers when you shut your eyes to an out-of-control murder rate, mounting assaults against women and female and male children? Why haven’t you been marching against the stink of families torn apart by murder? Why haven’t you marched against the stink of corruption in the public service, where hundreds of millions of dollars have gone missing without explanation? More than anything else, why haven’t you launched and sustained a loud cry against an abysmally failed public education system? I’m convinced that educational dysfunction is the ultimate root of many of our societal and economic problems.
Yet, you raise your arms in holy ecstasy when you learn that you have successfully stopped many children who should be entitled to Bahamian citizenship from getting it. You did so because your pastor told you it was more important to stop the fornication and adultery that produced some of those children. You were in ecstasy because you stopped a supposed flood of foreign spouses from getting citizenship, just like pastor said you should.

Shamefully, you are now shouting victory in Jesus because you stopped those dirty homosexuals from marrying each other, just like pastor said. Never mind that there was no Bill regarding same-sex marriage up for the vote. Let’s gloss over the fact that there was NO bill stating ‘whosoever will may be registered as a Bahamian citizen’. All this from people who should have read the scripture that says “Call nothing I have created unclean”. This was said to Peter who knew that the Lord was not talking about food, but about people the Jews considered unclean. Obviously, you were not moved by the love of Christ when you marked your ballot, but blind prejudices and pastor’s leash around your neck.

Save Our Bahamas

The media reports show you grinning in victory, but just what did you win? The right to continue to mislead by fearmongering and deluding those who follow you into believing that they were champions of morality? Where was the morality in separating families, in denying rights to children or in denying equality in basic human rights to which every citizen of The Bahamas should be entitled? Obviously, you triage the words of the Bible. You choose verses that allow you to string together a philosophy that shuts out the light of Christ and his love. Your engorged egos are showing. Your lust for secular power has emerged naked from beneath your suits, robes and self-righteous, smug grins. You deny the dictates of Christ who says to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s’.
Obviously, you believe you need to and can save the Lord his planned return trip. He can rest easy in heaven, because you have judgement and rewards covered. You ‘gat’ this! By the power of the secular vote, by the stroke of an indelible pencil, by the pastor-induced, deluded passions of your congregants, you can wipe out fornication, adultery, the marrying of non-Bahamians, homosexuals and foreigners in general. So, by your silence in everything else, you lead me to believe that you’re good with murder, rape, domestic abuse, incest, failing public schools, public corruption, the lack of institutions that cultivate logic, refinement of thought and spirit, as well as comity among fellow Bahamians.

On the other hand, you find your voice and loudly pollute the Gospel of Christ to justify your discrimination against contributing, honest Bahamians, who get electrocuted daily on the third rail of your Pharisee righteousness. Perhaps, you modern Pharisees will lobby next for the imposition of Sharia law in The Bahamas? It is a belief system, which allow extremists to insist that women are commodities, who can be raped by praying men and slaughtered for the slightest infraction. And to think that there are thousands of Bahamian ‘holy’ women who would be good with that. Why else would the women of your congregations go out and vote against equal rights for women on June 7? Shame on you!

LGBTQ Spokespersons

I once believed that people who suffered discrimination would be the first in line to fight for and uphold rights for everyone. I always did think The Bahamas and Bahamians anomalous in many ways and you proved it during the lead up to the June 7 vote. You spoke loudly and long for the defeat of the Referendum. I have heard it said that you perceived a possible loophole that would permit you to lobby for personal interests. That is unfounded rumour. The undeniable truth is, you who have known the sting of discrimination used the opportunity to discriminate against others whose claims to rights were represented in the poll. I voted for human rights; you voted against them. I heap more shame on you than all the other benighted naysayers.

Government Hypocrisy

The current government administration has opened a new page in hypocrisy and casting blame on others. Have you begun to believe your own politicking? I quote from statements made by your representatives as published in the newspapers. They surely make the case for me:

“…Political confusion” led to the resounding no vote in the gender equality referendum.

And here was the statement that took my breath away: “The LGBT community are the ones who are really celebrating the victory of the ‘no’ vote. Unfortunately, I think now we will have someone in that community challenge the word ‘sex’ as it is still undefined in the constitution and they may leave it up to the courts to define sex. All of us, including the Save Our Bahamas pastors, will be praying that the courts interpret it in a strict sense and not liberally.”

Obviously, the people who spent more than a million dollars asking people to vote ‘yes’, were praying to their Franken god for the failure of democracy.

The best statement of all: “The government respects and will abide by the will of the people pursuant to the constitution.”

What could this be but hypocrisy? When the Bahamian people voted a resounding ‘no’ to legalizing local gambling, this same political party that currently governs discarded the will of the people and went ahead and legalized local gambling. How can you government leaders, despite your grins and purple thumbs up, expect the rest of us to see anything but hypocrisy?

You are willing to sanction the shrinking of human rights and democracy, while allowing the spread of gambling enterprises in every nook and cranny in this country, even in the poorest quarters of the capital, even on islands that claim an economy through pure hope. What could it be but hypocrisy when you rubber stamp the expansion of an insidious addiction that induces some of the poorest, jobless Bahamians to ‘spin’ all day long and lose the little money and dignity they do have? Are you still claiming that you ‘believe in Bahamians’? You can indeed claim that, if you alter the phrase a bit and say “We believe in Bahamians and foreigners, of course, who have the big dollars to fund another election victory or otherwise sing our party anthem. Shame on you!

Opposing Parties

Many of you had to have voted ‘no’ and it could be for no better reason than to take revenge on the Progressive Liberal Party for campaigning against the same bills in 2002. Did you think deeply about who would be hurt by your actions. You couldn’t possibly think you were hurting the well-moneyed PLP administration. No—You victimized the many young people, who struggle with all the negatives of joblessness and being denied equitable participation in the benefits and responsibilities of their homeland.

You victimized the young people who were born in this country of Haitian parents but have never set foot on Haitian soil. You slapped in the face all the migrants and children of migrants who brought many gifts to this country: Let’s start with both sides of the Maynard family, the founder of the Dupuch family, and the many gifted contributors across the economic spectrum—even Lynden Pindling whom we have elevated as the “Father of the Nation”. You have denied a legion of people opportunities for equal pay, opportunities for advancement, opportunities for real leadership in governance, in the world of commerce and in winning lucrative government contracts and other choice economic and social fruit. Some of you spend so much time with infighting, it will take a miracle to get people to believe you are worthy of taking over the government. I’ll say one thing for the third party leader, empurpled thumb up, grinning broadly, he owned up to voting ‘no’. Shame on all of you egotists and get your act together!

Who lost in the Referendum of June 7? We all did.

Only difference is that we will all feel the impact in different ways and at different times. The failure of the four bills are four nails that will seal many a metaphorical coffin. It put paid to any chance that the current government administration had for creating a legacy that could be respected and extolled by people of goodwill, the people who uphold truth and human rights. The same goes for all the politicos who voted in the negative to take revenge on the PLP.
Save Our Bahamas and associated congregations lost.

You spurned the advice and warning of the God I know: “What you do to least of these, you do to me.”

Democracy lost and The Bahamas will continue to lose the fuel to power us out of what is bidding fair to be a downward economic and social spiral. You deny rights to and hamstrung a wealth of people, male and female, who could add to the innovation and energy we need to rise. Shame on all of us as the international community looks on to see our gorgeous outer apparel no longer covering our dirty undergarments. We, who have been so richly endowed in assets, destroy them one by one, while we happily, greedily and spitefully create a new Dark Age to blight the world.
I end with two extracts from W. H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues”; somehow, they seem appropriate here—Never mind that Auden wouldn’t have been allowed into the sacred precincts of the Bahamian Church Inc.

Funeral Blues

Silence the pianos and with muffled drumBring out the coffin, let the mourners come…

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;For nothing now can ever come to any good.

June 7, 2016 is a day that will live on in infamy. Forty-three years on and still no “One Bahamas”.

Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, vice president, Creative Nassau, is an educator, author, poet, cultural critic and avid researcher of Bahamian history, culture and arts. First woman to present the Sir Lynden Pindling Memorial Lecture, she also won the first Bahamas Cacique Award for Writing and a Silver Jubilee of Independence Medal for Literature. Her poetry collection, Chasing Light, was a finalist in the 2012 International Proverse Prize Competition sponsored by Proverse Publishing Hong Kong, which published the book. The College of The Bahamas presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for culture and literature (2014).

Glinton-Meicholas has written 18 books, including An Evening in Guanima (short stories), A Shift in the Light (novel) and Robin’s Song, which are used in the schools. She contributed eight biographies to the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (OUP 2016) and a chapter for a book on international children’s literature (Rutledge’s Companion to…series). She is completing another book of short stories.)

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