Video: Civil Union Legislation Presentation

February 12, 2016

[Updated with video] The Ministry of Community, Culture & Sports and Ministry of Home Affairs hosted their first “public information session regarding civil unions” last night, with Minister Pat Gordon-Pamplin previously saying “we received considerable input and written submissions from advocacy groups on both sides of the discussion. At the next round of meetings we will share what we’ve learned and how we plan on proceeding.”

Civil Union Presentation at Ruth Seaton Bermuda, February 11 2016 (1)

The meetings follow after extensive public dialogue surrounding same sex marriage, and a gathering on the Cabinet Grounds by supporters of both the “Preserve Marriage” and “Love Wins” movements.

“Preserve Marriage” has stated their stance on civil unions, saying, “It is a proven fact that civil unions lead to same sex marriage. The creation of civil partnerships/unions is part of a clearly documented strategy by those seeking marriage redefinition to achieve their aim.

“In almost every country that has now redefined marriage, this was preceded by the creation of civil unions. Therefore, because we are FOR preserving marriage in Bermuda we must be against civil unions by default because civil unions lead to same sex marriage.”

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda have also made their position clear, saying said they support “the rights of all people in Bermuda to have their consensual, loving relationships between two individuals recognized and protected – regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

“The Bermuda courts have already supported this position, ruling that refusing to recognize same-sex partnerships amounts to discrimination – a stance which we wholeheartedly stand by. A referendum on this issue disregards the struggle of minority groups in human rights issues. Why should an unaffected majority decide the extent to which an oppressed minority can access their rights?”

16-page slide presentation shown at the meeting:

The next Public Information Sessions on Civil Unions in Bermuda will be held at 6.00pm on Monday, 15 February at the Berkeley Institute.

On a related note, according to the Order Papers for today’s [Feb 12] sitting of the House of Assembly, PLP MP Wayne Furbert is set to bring a “Human Rights Amendment Act 2016″ and OBA MP Sylvan Richards will bring a Private Members Bill entitled “Same-Sex Marriage Referendum Act 2016″.

What exactly is contained in both Bills is not clear at this time, however back in 2013 when the Human Rights Act was being amended to include sexual orientation, Mr Furbert’s suggested a change pertaining to marriage, with his motion being defeated in the House of Assembly. Mr Furbert wanted to change the amendment so it could not affect the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1974, expressing concerns over same sex marriage.

Lawyer Mark Pettingill — who is representing a gay couple who filed a marriage application — previously said, “Given the provisions in the Human Rights Act, the primacy of the Human Rights Act, which was touched on recently by the Chief Justice, I held the view for a long time that, as a result of the law that was changed with regard to discrimination on sexual orientation, that the provision of services – which is what occurs under the Marriage Act – it’s a service that’s provided by the Registrar to marry people or to give them a marriage license. The Act is clear that you cannot withhold services on the basis of any form of discrimination.”

Update 2.21pm: 90-minute video of last night’s information session on civil unions

click here same sex marriage

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Comments (38)

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  1. Anyway you look at it,this is a done deal and will be pushed into legislation before the next fort night or there about, because the AG said publicly that his department is already in the process of drafting legislation, just in case the ruling is allowed to take it’s course.

    When has Bermuda ever drafted and prepared proposed legislative documentation, based on a just in case scenario.

    This is a done deal that the O.B.A is hell bent in bringing into being regardless of the majorities disapproval of the matter, I Think the majority need to seriously think of overthrowing this government and I am very serious on the issue, it has happen other places, so since we are doing thing’s we have never done, let’s over throw this government, Marches and town hall meetings are no longer a effective tool to be heard.

    So any government coming behind this be warned, we have advanced to the point of going to the next level.

    • Ed Case says:

      uote: “So any government coming behind this be warned, we have advanced to the point of going to the next level”.

      Sounds like a threat from a man of god. How inappropriate.

      Perhaps we should follow your bible and stone to death women who talk back.

      • In the future I hope a media can stop showing those two confused brothers kissing when reporting on same sex marriage.
        F!@#ing Nasty

        • mike says:

          and that is what is really at the heart of the opposition to same sex marriage.

    • Herb says:

      Overthrow a democratically elected Govt in a British Territory, OH REALLY. I guess the rest of us are going to stand by and let the radical PLP do this, I DONT THINK SO BROTHER, you want war bring it on I for one am not going to just stand by and watch, those days are over, and you can bet the British Govt is not just going to stand by and watch either.

      YOu will have your chance at the end of 2017 the way civilized countries do it, at an election if not you will be living in worse than a third world country on this little island.

    • Had Enough says:

      when’s the next election because I won’t be voting for eith party presently in the political circle. Have no probpem saying I voted OBA last time but might vote is now gone.

      • hmmm says:

        You don’t believe people should have equal rights???????

        Shame on you.

      • @ Had Enough, so you voted for U.B.P and ya pissed off that you did, and ya not gonna vote P.L.P.
        All I can say is “You are F!@#ed”

    • Duane, it’s not going to happen mate…This what you are suggesting will possibly see you and others up at Westgate Prison if not too careful :-( The majority aren’t them that are in the churches and that support an uprising of them opposing the possibility of the “Law” being changed.
      Believe me mate, there are countless etc. etc. that didn’t attend the protest but will vote behind a “curtain” shuck they are even in (yours) other churches. And that’s a fact!

      • Ray to all those who thought that my blog was advocating violence, let me say they are wrong and that is understandable based on how it may sound, but the reality is that there is a political process that can be taken when the people that are in the majority really get sick and tired, and we can take this process and throw them out on their Ox, and I would say this about the P.L.P and any government that is doing as the present ones are doing.

        Our voices and our votes are more powerful then any form of violence.

        • Ed Case says:

          Surely if this bill passes it is the will of god otherwise he wouldn’t let it happen.

          Perhaps god is sick and tired of people like you who spread hate using his name as your excuse.

          I’d be pretty upset with people like you and you’d be the first I’d send to that firey place. Perhaps it is you that should watch your back.

        • Come Correct says:

          Here I was looking forward to your reaction to a can of tear gas…

    • mike says:

      And as we know, once those “other places” that passed civil union and marriage laws have experienced downfall of their communities with moral and economic drought shortly after. The passage of same sex marriage and civil union legislation will completely rob this country of all civility. We do not need this to happen to Bermuda… *snark*

      • Anbu says:

        Thats funny cause canada has been doing it for over a decade. No problems there tho. Whos giving u this information u spout off? God? Hhhmmm sounds like gods a liar to me

        • mike says:

          snark2
          [snahrk] Slang.
          verb (used without object)
          1.
          to be critical in a rude or sarcastic way:
          to snark about the neighbors.
          noun
          2.
          rude or sarcastic criticism.

        • blankman says:

          I think Mark was being sarcastic. At least I hope he was.

      • serengeti says:

        So you’ve been pleased with the economic and moral record of Bermuda over the past ten years or so then? You want that to keep going.

    • Equal Rights and Justice for all!!! says:

      I support equal rights and justice for all. No one has the right to discriminate against another. Everyone has a human right and this cannot be overlooked. People need to stand up and stop fearing what others may think of them! You will be surprised how many will vote for equal rights when no one is looking but they are afraid to verbalize this. I will verbalize this because as I have matured I am now more confident in self and yes, I do believe in a higher power. A higher power that I believe loves all people equally and who can be the only judge. Equal rights and Justice for all!!!!

    • Go home. You can’t over throw the government. The people have the power to vote them out. That’s it. If you attempt to over throw the government, Britain gets involved, and Bermudians die in our streets. Let’s get serious.

  2. 235 says:

    How soon can we change this Goverment?

    • hmmm says:

      You can change it, but you’ll regret it, once the PLP put us quickly back into a huge hole. The IMF will have to step in, then the BMD becomes worthless and the forced unpeg on our currency causes instant depreciation. We won’t be able to afford to buy goods from overseas. Say hello to third world status and begging for international aid.

      • Lois Frederick says:

        You are about right in your assessment, except it would not be the IMF. As an OT it would be the UK that would be assuming financial control over us. The effect would not be that different. It would be very unpleasant for Bermudians and not an unlikely outcome if the plp assume power again.

    • I hear people who voted for these Dreamers saying the same thing.
      You had your chance and you blew it, so just bend over and wait.

  3. Daylilly says:

    Your actions are your greatest truth. This government weakened the law on Marriage by amending the Human Rights Act 1981 now that same government blames those very same laws that they weakened as the reason for their movement toward redefining marriage.

    It is disingenuous to say that the government has no intent to redefine marriage when all of their actions show otherwise.

    After being lobbied by people opposing Traditional Marriage the government amended the Human Rights Act 1981 and said this will not affect Marriage. Knowing the correlation that civil-unions lead to same sex marriage, this government still puts forth legislation for “same-sex only civil-unions”, knowing that it will further weaken Marriage.
    Their actions have essentially guaranteed SSM and absolved them from any complicity by setting up the governor appointed judiciary to take the fall.

    If that was their plan they should have been forthright with the public.

    • hmmm says:

      Your plan is to hate…you are doing it so well. God will not allow you into the kingdom of heaven for your hate. Sorry that good, sharing and selfless gay gentleman got your spot.

    • Rhonnda aka Blue Familiar says:

      The only thing that can weaken marriage are those who do not respect the institution and do not honour their vows or spouse.

    • blankman says:

      I still have no idea how this will affect marriage. The only way it can impact existing marriages is if one of the partners is gay. And I don’t hear anyone insisting that you marry someone of the same sex.

  4. Stickbone says:

    I have to say, after reading the article on Civil Unions and digesting the fact that there will be a change in the Human Rights Act 1981, I admire Preserve Marriage. Look at the odds they had to overcome. They have been persecuted and marginalized, and through this they were able to put together a small group of 9,000+ alleged supporters. Since this oppressed group was small it comes as no surprise that they were only, and just barely able to amass probably a few hundred thousand measly dollars. Sadly, this small amount of money only allowed them to put ads on television, radio, take out ads in the newspaper, create a website, sponsor billboards at the airport, create a limited liability company, create a tiny task group of 400+ people, a 4-5 day convention this coming weekend, flyers and pamphlets. Although this was all that they could afford, somehow they were lucky enough to get some of their aims through. Under an oppressive government, that obviously is controlled by a humongous gay lobby; comprising of around 4 or 5 people who post on Facebook, a lawyer and a gay couple who love overseas, and a conglomerate of around 10 or so regular Bernews and Royal Gazette commentators, they were able to uphold their morals and beliefs and even have it enshrined in the law. The supremacy that the Matrimonial Act will have over the Human Rights act shows that they love everyone, and just want everyone to have the type of life that they live, because they are morally superior, they know what is best and they know this is the only way that anyone should live their life. This love that they have shown, will shine brightly, through the law of this pluralist society, to prove that if you just adhere to the Holy Bible, you will be able to join in society and all that it has to offer. If you do not adhere to the Bible, well, they still love you, but you can’t have nice things. Isn’t that wonderful!!

    So as you go about your day today, do not be upset with PM, admire them! Look at the mountains they had to climb, look at the persecution they endured as their rights to a happy life were being eroded day-by-day. Now gay people have a seat at the (kiddie) table as well, with Civil Unions. Yes, maybe they have been told to shut up while the grown-ups are talking, but hey, that is all in love folks. Thank you PM! You guys are tops!

    • mike says:

      Can I send you a bouquet on Sunday? Because I wuv you right now. LOL

  5. clearasmud says:

    It appears as if the Government has rushed ahead with their efforts to placate both sides with out considering all the consequences. That they would attempt to restrict civil unions to same sex couples only is a Huge red flag. Why would they not allow opposite sex couples who are in committed long term well established relationships the same opportunity to have legal protection in terms of inheritance, insurance, pensions etc. There are people of all persuasions who are not interested in getting married although they may have children together and have lived together for many years.

    I also notice that they did not mention the Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights: which speaks most directly on the issues we are attempting to deal with. anyone interested should read the following case in the ECHR case-law update from (July 2010-December 2011). The case is -Schalk and Kopf v. Austria (No. 30141/04), 24 June 2010 (page) 15

    • O'Brien says:

      Your wrong on the last point. AG Moniz did mention the caselaw of the ECtHR, and in particular Oliari v Italy. That case holds that a party to the Convention (like Bermuda) is in breach of its Art 8 obligations if it fails to provide legal recognition to same-sex relationships. Hence, the move to civil unions is bringing us in line with the law.

      The case you cite, Schalk and Kopf, is authority only for the proposition that member states are not required to recognize SSM. So if anything it supports the position that the government is taking here.

      • Eugenie says:

        You are correct. The ECHR also has consistently struck done and same sex challenges to any country’s marriage laws. Gay rights does not have primacy over marriage in accordance to the ECHR which recognizes the uniqueness of a union between a man and a woman and states that it has primacy over same sex rights. Therefore while countries are required to establish legislative frameworks to recognize and to provide legal benefits to persons in same sex religions, this framework does not have to be marriage.

        However, Pro Marriage advocates have to also understand that rights to same sex unions are enforced on its member countries by the ECHR – even though these unions do not have to be marriages. This research should have been done by those on both sides of the debate and explained to the citizens of Bermuda.

      • clearasmud says:

        I am not a lawyer but as I understand it Bermuda is not in Europe and is not as you suggest party to the convention. It relies on its relationship with the UK. This following statement can be found on the Center of Justice website.

        “Bermuda does not come under the Human Rights Act, but has its own Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution which mirrors much of the ECHR, though it does not quite cover all the rights established in the ECHR. The jurisprudence of the ECtHR will certainly be of interest to courts in Bermuda where any rights under the Constitution need to be interpreted.

        it further states ” However, while the ECHR binds Bermuda as a matter of international law, it will not have direct effect in Bermuda unless its provisions are incorporated by an Act of the Legislature. This position was reiterated by Clough JA, who delivered the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal in Bermuda Industrial Union v BAS-Serco Limited [2003] Bda LR 64, when he wrote at para 114 as follows:

        “Although the ECHR was applied to Bermuda by the United Kingdom (before the 2nd June 1968 when the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 took effect), no domestic legislation has been passed to implement specifically the ECHR in Bermuda. It is therefore the Constitution (and not the ECHR) which has the force of law to be applied by the Bermuda courts.”

        Also I did not say that the minister did not site case law only that the above Schalk case was in my view close to the issues we are dealing with.

        • O'Brien says:

          You are correct to observe that Bermuda is not in Europe. However the UK is in Europe, was an original Contracting State (party) to the Convention, and extended its application to the overseas territories (including Bermuda) long ago. We are bound by the Convention, as the judgments you quote make plain.

          The European Court of Human Rights is the ultimate arbiter of questions relating to the Convention. You are quite right that in Schalk, the Court held that member states (this includes Bermuda) have no Convention obligation to legislate or recognize SSMs. But you say that is relevant here. How? Nobody has said we are bound by the Convention to allow SSMs. The Minister contends, rightly, that we have an obligation to provide a legal framework for same-sex relationships. That is what the Oliari case holds.

  6. blankman says:

    Cowardly and discriminatory.

    • Reality Check says:

      Hey , they are politicians after all . You didn’t really expect them to show actual leadership did you ?

  7. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    The content of a legal marriage ceremony between a man and a woman of consenting age should be standardized regardless of denominations, devoid of disguise;pretense;theatrics and dowry.

  8. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    Rodney Smith ,why are you so afraid of Bermudians ….dying in the streets…..People have died in the streets.all over the world ,fighting for their rights,freedom ,justice,and equality.People will die for these noble causes until time immemorial.In fact justice has never been achieved,at any time until people are prepared to ,die in the streets.If you are afraid of ,dying in the streets ,then I say jump under the bed and pull the covers off the bed and hide under the covers,under the bed,and prepare to die there.Cause your’e surely going to die somewhere.Better to die standing for something than hiding from nothing which you obviously are prepared to do.Peace.

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