American Group Urges Governor To “Veto” Bill

December 14, 2017

The U.S. based Human Rights Campaign has urged the Governor of Bermuda “to veto legislation passed by the Bermuda Parliament repealing marriage equality,” saying that “if the measure becomes law, the British overseas territory will become the first territory in the world to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

Domestic Partnership Act Passes In House & Senate

The Domestic Partnerships Act passed in the House of Assembly on Friday night, and then passed in the Senate yesterday by a vote of 8 – 3, with the five Government and three Independent Senators voting for it.

Same sex marriage became legal in Bermuda following a Supreme Court decision in May 2017, when the court ruled that “common law discriminates against same-sex couples by excluding them from marriage.”

However this Bill will change the legal status, with the Domestic Partnerships Act [PDF] designed to replace same-sex marriages with a domestic partnership which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Bill Needs Assent From The Governor

Having been approved in both the House [24-10] and Senate [8-3], the Bill now heads to the UK-appointed Governor for assent, which is normal procedure for Bills.

Human Rights Campaign Statement

According to their website, the U.S. based HRC is “the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization,

Their statement said, “HRC urged the Governor of Bermuda — John Rankin — to veto legislation passed by the Bermuda Parliament repealing marriage equality.

“If the measure becomes law, the British overseas territory will become the first territory in the world to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Bermuda Tourism Authority has warned of severe consequences if the measure becomes law.

“If Governor Rankin signs this measure into law, it will rip away the right of loving same-sex couples in Bermuda to marry. That’s unconscionable,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “With international business and tourism as its major industries, Bermuda’s people, international reputation, and economy would all be harmed by this legislation. It is crucial that Governor Rankin reject this assault on equality.”

“Under the guise of passing domestic partnership benefits, the bill seeks to strip loving same-sex Bermudian couples of the right to marry. The effort is being led by the Progressive Labour Party, which took power in July.

“Passed by the Bermuda Senate today, the legislation was also approved by the Bermuda House of Assembly late last week. It now goes to Governor Rankin — who is the representative of the British monarch — for consideration.

“In a letter to Senators, the Bermuda Tourism Authority warned of consequences for the tourism industry if the measure becomes law, citing economic fallout over anti-LGBTQ measures in North Carolina and Indiana.

The letter states, “Significantly, it’s not only LGBT travelers that care about equal rights based on sexual orientation. Our research indicates many companies, consumers and travelers, including the overwhelming majority of the younger visitors powering Bermuda’s growth, care about this issue. It’s why the fallout in North Carolina and Indiana has proven so detrimental.”

“Bermuda achieved marriage equality through a Supreme Court ruling in May this year. In the case brought by Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian partner Greg DeRoche, the couple challenged the Registrar-General’s rejection of their application to marry.

According to Grant Spurling, a lawyer who represented the couple in the marriage equality case, “the [Bermuda Supreme] Court is bound by legislation” under Bermuda’s legal system, unlike in the United States where courts can overturn legislation or policies that violate the Constitution. Thus, Bermuda’s legislature has primacy over the courts in many instances.”

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Comments (17)

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  1. temp says:

    For the avoidance of doubt.

    The Domestic Partnership Act passing reflects the majority of Bermuda elected representatives – 24 to 10, Members appointed to the Senate – 8 to 3 (including all 3 Independent Senators) and close to 70% of all voters in the 2016 referendum regarding same sex marriages.

    It is also factual that the European Convention on Human Rights (if you accept its legitimacy) has determined that marriage is not a Human Right. It further encourages relevant jurisdictions to take steps in this regard that reflect local cultural norms and mores.

    On that basis, the Governor would be fundamentally wrong in any decision to veto a democratically derived decision.

    • PBanks says:

      I fear you may be right. I don’t know what OutBermuda and Rainbow Alliance and their supporters can really do now besides regroup. Maybe hope for a new political movement that’s supportive of their message, and rally behind them.

    • Bermudaperson says:

      Why would it be wrong for the governor, the representative of the Queen and UK government, to veto a hateful bill that seeks to take away equal rights? You do realise how bad Bermuda looks if it is takes away rights?

    • smile says:

      I sadly agree with you. I gave myself a civics lesson yesterday and sat through the debate at Parliament house.

      While the optics of this are terrible and will damage Bermudas reputation (and my personal views are that a vote of conscience should have blocked the bill)…. Reality is – Sadly we have a large percentage of the population who are very conservative and stuck in their ways.

      Government and independent senators are there to represent the populations wishes and sadly Marriage equality isn’t something the majority of Bermudians are ready for.

      I was Inspired sitting in on the debate that the MAJORITY of senators did express hope that our population would evolve more quickly in this “space” and that as the rest of the world progresses – that we will follow.
      That is positive!

      Keep being heard and days of marriage equality for all in this country are on the near horizon.

      ** One note. For all those appalled at yesterdays decision. I think it was a wake up call that when Referendums are held on big issues like this……. GET OUT AND VOTE!!! It is pitiful that less than 50% of registered voters showed up in 2016 for the referendum on SSM.

      Too many of us were just “too busy” that day to support a minority group that needed our voice of support behind them on the day of the vote (Not now 18 months too late!).

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    Hmmmm, the Governor is stuck between a rock & a hard place. He is the Queen’s representative. Well, really he is the representative of the British Government which supposedly oversees local goings on in the colonies to make sure they don’t do stupid things.

    My understanding is that gay marriages are legal in England. In fact they are legal in all of Europe.

    How can he approve this law which is contrary to the Government he represents?

  3. facts of the rock says:

    The British Governor will have NO option but to refuse to sign off on this or face immediate recall in disgrace and an interim Governor will take over.
    No Governor would risk being recalled like that.

    This stupid exercise by the plp will fail!
    as the younger generation are fond of saying…Epic Fail.

    The World Media and it’s people and Leaders are watching this very carefully as it unfolds,not to forget business leaders are taking a very clear interest too.

  4. Dready says:

    If the governor does not give his assent, the plp will rally for independence, is that what you want?

    • facts of the rock says:

      who cares if the plp do try to rally for Independence,it will never happen;plus,whilst the Queen is on the Throne she will never give up Bermuda.

    • Legalgal says:

      Sadly he’ll rubber stamp it. But reluctantly. Shameful day for Bermuda.

      • Out-of-Towner says:

        Shameful yes and self defeating. World press is already condemning this. It will destroy the good will created by Americas Cup.

    • Bermudaperson says:

      The PLP would be extraordinarily ignorant and a public embarrassment if it would scream independence because the UK refuses to allow them to oppress a minority. The PLP would claim that they are being oppressed because they aren’t allowed to oppress another group.

      • bdaboy says:

        ” The PLP would claim that they are being oppressed because they aren’t allowed to oppress another group.”

        …and they will not see the hypocrisy in this.

    • Worried says:

      Not at all, but you might as well say we already are. If you don’t do what I say we will rally for independence. For those that think that independence is the best answer, let me ask you this. Does your dollar mean anything to you? What exactly besides, tourism and ok a little goslings rum do we make money on or bring to the table? The grass is not always greener on the other side. Let’s just take this beautiful island and turn it into shambles. What exactly is the big deal over this same sex marriage??? It is a personal choice of a human being, there is nothing you can do or say that will change that persons feelings, except by this make them want to stay as far away from here as possible. Should we go independent then tell me where exactly do you think money will come from. Take it from me, it sure does’nt grow on trees.

  5. #BoycottBermuda is trending.... says:

    This will be great for Bermuda

  6. Bermudianabroad says:

    It’s just a problem of small island mentality. It will take a generation, but in the end it will change. You just have to outlive the morons or do not go there or move. Try Australia which is enlightened, at last!

    It is so sad for Bermuda given its past record of discrimination. Just shows both black or white equally know how to discriminate. One day, hopefully we will get it right. The Gov does not have a choice. Reap as you sow.

    • i heart 441 says:

      Small island mentality huh, well explain the following that I’m about to post.
      There are 200 plus countries in this world, some with populations of over 200 million. So this by far is not only a small island mentality.

      A survey this month by the Pew Research Center found that 26 countries recognize same-sex marriage. The most recent addition was Australia, where Parliament voted this month to legalize the marriages. (If a recent court ruling in Austria takes effect in 2019 as expected, the number would rise to 27.)

      “Worldwide, roughly two-thirds of the countries that allow gay marriage — 17 of 26 — are in Western Europe,” Pew said. “Still, a number of Western European nations, particularly Italy and Switzerland, do not allow same-sex unions. And, so far, no countries in Central and Eastern Europe have legalized gay marriage.”

      South Africa is the only African nation to have made the unions legal, and New Zealand and Australia are the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region to have done so. Pew noted that Taiwan’s highest court ruled in favor of gay unions this year but gave Parliament two years to implement the ruling.

      “Not surprisingly,” it added, “same-sex marriage has advanced mostly in countries and regions where acceptance of homosexuality is high.”