Following yesterday’s news that a same-sex couple hoping to get married on a cruise were unable to as the company is registered in Bermuda which prohibits them from conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies, Tony Brannon has started an online petition calling for the Bermuda Government to “Legalize Same Sex Marriage and implement a complete and full Human Rights for all Bermuda citizens & visitors.”
Mr Brannon — a well known tourism advocate and local entertainer — told Bernews, “It was a few years ago that Bermuda created a firestorm of attention with the Rosie O’Donnell Gay Cruise to Bermuda. The homophobes of Bermuda successfully scared off these fine folks and along with it, tourism dollars.
“Why is it that Bermuda is always last to the party on just about everything?” said Mr. Brannon. “Bermuda was last to take credit cards in hotels. Bermuda was last to get rid of MAP meal plans in hotels. Bermuda is late to gaming. Bermuda is being passed by, so many countries now support same sex marriage. When a country is last to the party, it invariably will come last.”
Yesterday, international websites reported that Jaqui Chapman, who has been on 40 P&O cruises, planned to marry her partner on board a P&O ship this September and was disappointed to learn she was unable to, with a P&O spokesperson saying: “We welcome all passengers on board. Unfortunately, Bermuda law prohibits us from conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies, but we can certainly offer same-sex vow renewals on board carried out by the captain.”
According to a poll conducted last year by Profiles of Bermuda, nearly 6 in 10 Bermuda voters [58.5%] oppose same-sex marriages, while 4 in 10 [38.4%] were in favour of such marriages and 3.2% were unsure; with younger voters [between the ages of 18 and 34] more likely to support same-sex marriages [58.2%], the only age group to do so.
In June 2013, MPs passed an amendment to the Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. During the session PLP MP Wayne Furbert brought forward a proposed change to the amendment trying to specifically exclude it from pertaining to marriage. The motion was defeated with all OBA MPs that were present and three PLP MPs [Walter Roban, Walton Brown, Michael Scott] voting it down by a margin of 18-12.
However, as Minister Bob Richards pointed out at that time, the Human Rights Amendment has nothing to do with marriage, as marriage is dealt with in separate legislation. “We have a Marriage Act,” said Minister Richards. “So if anything was going to be done about changing the ability of people to get married, of the same sex, it would have to be done to the Marriage Act not to the Human Rights Act.”
The petition started by Mr Brannon says, “The number of places overseas where same-sex couples are allowed to marry is not only increasing but accelerating: The Netherlands , Belgium , Canada [provincially beginning in 2003, nationally in 2005], Massachusetts , Spain , South Africa , Connecticut , Iowa , Vermont , New Hampshire , Norway , Sweden , Mexico City , Argentina , US District of Columbia , Portugal , Iceland  and New York state [US] .”