Mark Pettingill: ‘May Warrant A Legal Challenge’

February 8, 2018

pettingill“There is a constitutional position which in my assessment may warrant a legal challenge” lawyer Mark Pettingill said, adding that it is a “matter which is currently under consideration.”

Mr Pettingill — a former Attorney-General who represented Winston and Greg Godwin-DeRoche in their case which resulted in the Bermuda Supreme Court making same sex marriage legal in May 2017 – was speaking after the Governor gave assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017.

The Domestic Partnerships Act passed in the House of Assembly and in the Senate, and will replace same-sex marriages with a domestic partnership which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Once approved in both the House [24-10] and Senate [8-3], the Bill went to the UK-appointed Governor for assent, which is normal procedure and generally seen as a formality, however it was been a topic of speculation in this case since the Bill was passed in December 2017.

Governor John Rankin put the speculation to rest yesterday, saying, “After careful consideration in line with my responsibilities under the Constitution, I have today given assent to the Domestic Partnership Act 2017.”

Mr Pettingill told Bernews, “Obviously we are deeply disappointed by this outcome which many people will regard as a step backwards in human rights.

“I do believe it was given due consideration by the Governor given the amount of time that it took in reaching a final decision.

“Having said that I remain of the view that there is a constitutional position which in my assessment may warrant a legal challenge and I can indicate that this is a matter which is currently under consideration.”

Following the Governor’s assent, Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown said, “With the introduction of the Domestic Partnership Act, Bermuda – an associate member of CARICOM – will be amongst the first English-speaking Caribbean islands to introduce and pass a law that provides legal recognition to same-sex couples.

“The Domestic Partnership Act permits any couple [heterosexual or homosexual] to enter into a domestic partnership and gives same-sex couples rights equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples; rights that were not guaranteed before the passage of this Act.

“The rights now guaranteed under the Domestic Partnership Act include: the right to inherit in the case of no will, the right to a partner’s pension[s], access to property rights, the right to make medical decisions on behalf of one’s partner and the right to live and work in Bermuda as the domestic partner of a Bermudian.

“While the majority of Bermudians do not agree with same-sex marriage – as evidenced by the referendum – it is the Government’s belief that this Act addresses this position while also complying with the European Courts by ensuring that recognition and protection for same sex couples are put in place.

“The Act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognising and protecting the rights of same-sex couples.

“Same-sex couples already married under Bermuda law before the commencement date of this Act will continue to be recognized as being married. Also, any overseas same sex marriages taking place before and during the transitional period will also be capable of recognition as marriages in Bermuda.”

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Comments (10)

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  1. LONG LIVE says:

    So I can enter into a domestic partnership with my Bredren so he can come live here and work here? Once he finds a suitable Bermudian wife we can “break up” and he can marry her and continue on living and working here? I believe a good friendship is considered a partnership right? If this is true im on it! And I think everyone else should to so we can bypass this stupid immigration law we have.

    • Hmm says:

      I’m about to get a demostic parnshership with my Canadian girlfriend so she can make more money working in Bermuda lmao….

      • Smart says:

        Can you do that? If so that’s what i will propose tonight!! Hah “propose”. Just kidding this isn’t marriage. Is there such thing as a domestic partnership divorce or will we have to call it something else like “unfriended”. Can she still take half or is that for married people only?

  2. Open the Flood Gates says:

    And the doors are open! Here come mass amounts of new Bermudians! Atleast this opens up pathways to status. The way I see it is it’s a partnership like a friendship so you don’t have to be LBGT to enter it. Kinda smart idea. Good job PLP, allowing pathways by hiding it in a different form lol.

  3. As the VISIONARY says:

    family member of the Honourable Walton Brown once said….

    “This too shall pass” or perhaps rather is it?…

    “We had to deceive you”

    History will tell the tale.

  4. Me says:

    The only thing that changed was Bermuda showed its ignorance to the world the old bermuda is another world stuffy island image is still intact I guess we can continue with they oh Bermudians are so friendly …….FAKE

    • So Tired says:

      A fraction of the world you mean. That decision is in line with the majority of the world

  5. PANGAEA says:

    LEGAL means have they got every body shaking in their boots . Try plan “B”

    Do they carry a sword or a big stick .

    That are lucky they got what they were given, we voted ” NO “.

    Recently, we celebrated our 61 th wedding annerversary, we are man and woman, meaning husband a wife joined together in holy martrimony.

    Do they tarnish the santicy of marriage berween a man and a woman ?

  6. PANGAEA says:

    Only a fool who listens to his own wisdom !

  7. Alan says:

    My impression is Mark is casting for an interested wealthy individual to foot the bill.