SSM/Partnerships Policy Takes Effect On June 1

February 28, 2018

The Domestic Partnerships Act is set to take effect on June 1st of this year, Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown said today, adding that this means “same sex couples can get married in Bermuda until May 31, 2018.”

In delivering a budget brief in the House of Assembly today, Minister Brown said, “The Department is also readying itself for the implementation of the Domestic Partnership Act.

“Commencement has been delayed to allow for any same sex marriages that have had licences already issued and are scheduled to be conducted in Bermuda, or on Bermuda registered ships, to actually take place.

“The commencement date will be the 1st of June, 2018. This means same sex couples can get married in Bermuda until May 31, 2018. The Registry General will continue to accept applications for same sex marriages until May 12, 2018.

“Any applications submitted by a same sex couple after that date must be for a domestic partnership under the new Act, not a marriage under the Marriage Act 1944 or the Maritime Marriage Act 1999,” the Minister added.

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The Bill was approved in the House and Senate in December 2017, and then went to the UK-appointed Governor for assent, which was granted on February 7th.

The Bill replaces same-sex marriages with a domestic partnership which can be entered into by both same-sex and heterosexual couples, and also takes effect on Bermuda registered ships who are required to adhere to Bermuda laws.

Following the Godwin-DeRoche court case in May 2017, it became legal for same sex couples to get married, however the ruling apparently did not automatically extend all the same legal benefits opposite sex couples received to same-sex couples.

Saying “it is something that has been missed,” Premier Burt previously said that the Domestic Partnership Act will result in same sex couples having more legal benefits than they previously had.

In an interview last year, Premier Burt said, “What happened previously before is that, for instance, same-sex couples did not have rights to pensions, did not have rights to survivorship benefits, hospital visitation, health insurance rights, prior to the passage of the Domestic Partnership Act. They now have those benefits, which they did not previously have.

“Though the judge said that same-sex couples were entitled to marry, the judge cannot give same-sex couples legal benefits,” the Premier said.

The legislation has attracted international attention and media reports, with Bermuda widely reported as the “first country to repeal same sex marriage.” The matter also prompted the use of a #BoycottBermuda hashtag online, and has attracted criticism from many people including former U.S Democratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean, tennis superstar Billie Jean King, business tycoon Richard Branson and actor John Leguizamo.

The legislation also prompted the Geoscience & Society Summit — which was scheduled to hold a conference in Bermuda thus year — to say they are “evaluating relocation options” as “Bermuda ban on same-sex marriage violates AGU’s location requirements.”

On the opposing side, a petition on the Madrid-based conservative website GoCitizen has attracted thousands of signatures, with the petition stating the “global community must rally to show Bermuda that we support their decision to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Prior to the assent being granted, there had been some calls, many of which came from overseas such as from the American LGBTQ rights group HRC and British MPs, for the UK to refuse assent or intervene in some manner.

However the British Government’s stated position is that while they are disappointed about the removal of same-sex marriage,  domestic partnerships meet the European Court of Human Rights requirement for legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and the UK has to respect that Territories “are separate, self-governing jurisdictions with their own democratically elected representatives and the right to self-government.”

The legislation is already facing a legal challenge in the Bermuda Courts, as Mark Pettingill — who won the case which initially allowed for same sex marriage last year — has filed a motion on behalf of a client challenging the constitutional aspects of the Domestic Partnership Act.

Mr Pettingill previously told Bernews that Roderick Ferguson, a Bermudian man living in the United States, filed this lawsuit because “the right to have a same-sex marriage has been taken away.”

The former Attorney-General maintained that as Bermuda created legislation that removes it, the Domestic Partnership Act is unconstitutional.

The Orginating Summons filed [PDF] is seeking an Order declaring that the Domestic Partnership Act “in so far as its effect is to reverse the decision in the case of Godwin & Deroche v The Registrar General, the Attorney General et al [2017] SC (Bda) 36 Civ, notwithstanding provisions of the Human Rights Act 1981, is void.”

The matter is scheduled to be heard in the Bermuda Courts in May 2018.

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Comments (9)

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  1. dick francis says:

    I wonder if the CJ will have made a ruling by then?

  2. puzzled says:

    Maybe that’s what the PLP should change their name to.
    Domestic Progressive Acting.

    Bye bye…………..

    • Scientist says:

      You’re puzzled because the oba didn’t give you nothing either but you still voted for them. LOL

  3. The grand wish is for the foolish appeal to be SMASHED!!!

  4. Cow Polly says:

    The judge ruled that homosexuals could get married just like heterosexuals under the existing marriage act. Do not understand why the ruling didn’t automatically extend all the legal benefits but if this is the case then instead of writing a new act, our Government should have been making changes to the legislation to ensure that homosexuals got their benefits.

    So does this mean that those homosexuals who have gained a marriage licence do so without benefits? And if they do benefit, then why on god’s earth are we jumping through hoops depriving others?????

  5. RAINBOW says:

    JINGAS boys and girls….


  6. northR says:

    ” why on god’s earth are we jumping through hoops depriving others?????”

    because some people don’t like gay people, so they shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else.

    nothing like this has ever happened in the history of mankind. :)

  7. RAINBOW says:

    So #Bermuda is giving gays 3 more months to sit anywhere on the bus, then after June 1st you get assigned seating? SMH
    More for the court case.
    Please support and donate #Crowdfunding LIVE Friday March 2nd 9am EST

  8. Me says:

    Love wins every time , always did always will