OBA: SSM Appeal Is Retrograde, Wastes Money

June 15, 2018 | 11 Comments

The Government’s plan to appeal the court ruling on the Domestic Partnership Act is a “retrograde step that could waste hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the OBA said today, adding that “surely it is time to say ‘enough’ and move on and stop wasting taxpayers’ money.”

Court Ruling

Chief Justice Dr Ian Kawaley ruled in favour of same sex marriage earlier this month, with the judgement saying that the provisions of the Domestic Partnership Act that serve to revoke same sex marriage rights are invalid.

Same sex marriage was initially legalised in Bermuda following a Supreme Court decision in May 2017, however the Domestic Partnership Act  passed in Bermuda’s legislature last year which created domestic partnerships and restricted marriage as between a man and woman, with the DPA taking effect on June 1st of this year.

The matter is not yet settled, as the Court granted a six week stay to allow time for appeal, and the Government confirmed they “will be appealing subject to any legal advice that we receive.”

Premier’s Comments

Speaking during Bernews live interview yesterday, the Premier said, “I believe that, as the Minister of Home Affairs said, that this was a compromised position attempting to reconcile two irreconcilable positions.

“The fact is that the Progressive Labour Party Government’s platform in the election said that was a step of which it would take. We executed on our platform promise, and now there has been a question about whether or not the judgment or what was done was fit and proper. We have indicated that we will appeal that decision.

“I think that the history of the decisions of which have been made by the Chief Justice in this matter has shown that a number of them have been overturned on appeal. From our perspective, that is the position of which the Government is going to continue.

Video extract from our interview where the Premier speaks on same sex marriage:

“I think what’s most important is to understand and to recognize is that I would like to see that this issue is finally arbited so that we can focus on matters of which I think have more impact and reflect on people’s lives, and those are the issues of growing the economy, fixing our education system, and reducing crime and violence inside of our society, and addressing the challenges with our cost of living.

“From that particular aspect, it’s not something that occupies a great deal of time in my day. The Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney General will review the judgment, will give the legal advice appropriate, and that matter will proceed through those courses.

The Premier also added, “Bermuda continues to be a welcoming country and we are, and the message is very plainly and simply as I’ve said in numerous occasions, we are the first English speaking Caribbean country to give legal recognition to same-sex couples. That is a place that a lot of our competing jurisdictions cannot state.

“From that particular aspect and that particular perspective, we are comfortable with keeping our promises to the electorate and this item will move forward. But I think that there are other items to focus on…”

OBA Comments

In a statement today, the OBA said, “In an interview yesterday the Premier indicated that his Government is going to press ahead with an appeal against the court ruling on the Domestic Partnership Act. This announcement is a retrograde step that could waste hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, said they had been told Government had decided to appeal the Supreme Court ruling by Chief Justice Ian Kawaley who ruled that aspects of the Act which revoked same sex marriage rights were invalid.”

“Government has lost two court cases now and should just say enough is enough. Too much taxpayer money has already been spent on this issue. These funds could have gone to correct some of the social and economic ills the Premier says need fixing,” said Ms Gordon-Pamplin.

“The Premier, in the interview, said he wanted to settle the same sex marriage issue so that he could “focus on matters that impact people’s lives” such as the economy, education and crime,” the OBA added.

The Shadow Minister went further on the issue, adding: “I would say that the money spent on two court cases so far and money being spent on an appeal would easily fund several economic, educational and anti-crime initiatives. Surely it is time to say ‘enough’ and move on and stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

“In a recent speech, the Premier said this Government was a Government for all. Did he mean that or were those just empty words because by pursuing this case, his Government is clearly excluding a section of our community.

“The Chief Justice said in his ruling: ‘Bermuda has a secular Constitution and section 8 of the Constitution prohibits Parliament from passing laws of general application for a religious purpose’. This is critical in understanding that there has to be a clear separation of Church and State, and the Government should not legislate for religious purposes.”

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Comments (11)

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  1. Me says:

    Well we are starting to see the cracks show in weak leadship as the mindset is really a dictatorship

  2. PBanks says:

    I do think that as far as the Premier goes, it’s not an issue that weighs heavily on his mind as he’s focused primarily on issues with the economy.

    As far as using more and more taxpayer dollars, well yeah. If you support marriage equality then you’re going to be ticked off at this. If you oppose it, do you reach a point where you say, man this isn’t worth the time and money, or do you say that this absolutely must go as far as it can, whatever it takes?

    Does/Can PM and its allies take over the legal case? or is it moot at this point in time?

    • Portuguese says:

      Are you saying the Premier can’t be bothered to be involved in this because he is “too busy”?
      Doing WHAT exactly?
      Getting BS mickey mouse mou’s?
      He is the Premier amd Finance Minister. Shouldn’t he be involved in spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit designed to reduce human rights!?
      If the job is too big for him he should call an election.

  3. Lol says:

    I find that funny coming from a former govt party that spent over 2 million dollars on a witch hunt that didn’t amount to anything. How quickly they forget.

    • Portuguese says:

      The judge in the US said that because the “alleged” bribery took place in Bermuda, the lawsuit should not have been brought in the USA.
      It was a judgment about jurisdiction, nothing more.
      It was certainly not a determination of innocence.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      What witch hunt do you mean?

  4. SSM vs Bacchanal says:

    Wow, the same government fighting SSM seems to support Heroes Day “weekend”, a carnival of drinking and other forms of excess on so many levels.

    The PLP seem to want to placate their “church” base, to be seen fighting SSM, but at the same time, so many of those same supporters are enjoying the “carnal delights” of this weekend.

    I am so confused. Just like racism is optional for the PLP, so is a “religious” lifestyle.

    “First take out the log that is in your own eye, and you will be able to remove the speck that is in your neighbour’s eye.”

  5. Back of the Bus says:

    Mark Pettingill has won TWO Supreme Court rulings affirming same-sex marriage.
    Premier Burt talks about an appeal…..

    The Premier is wasting tax payer dollars on a matter that should be accepted. He will only lose the appeal. He is out of touch.
    TRAGIC. Besides discriminating against a minority, he is spending $$$ on denying equality.

  6. One Who Escaped says:

    Oh my god! Bermuda is NOT in the Caribbean!!

  7. Jus' Askin' says:

    OBA should have had a binding referendum ;-)

  8. Me says:

    The colonel should sort this out

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