‘We Have One Aim, Equality Under The Law’

November 5, 2018

“We have one aim: equality under the law for all loving Bermuda couples and our families,” OUTBermuda said as the organisation prepares for the appeal in the same sex marriage case, which is set to get underway this Wednesday.

“This week, Bermuda’s Court of Appeal has scheduled three days for oral arguments in the appeal of the nation’s celebrated marriage equality suit from Wednesday, November 7 through Friday, November 9, 2018,” OUTBermuda said.

Maryellen Jackson and Roderick Ferguson said, in a joint statement: “We are humbled by the support given to us beginning with our original trial and we are staying our course in defending this appeal by the Government.

“There is much work to be done on the island to advance diversity and inclusion. This is one way that we are able to help affirm the experience of gay and lesbian Bermudians who recognize the importance of the institution of marriage for protecting their families.”

OUTBermuda spokesperson Adrian Hartnett-Beasley said, “We have one aim: equality under the law for all loving Bermuda couples and our families.

“This week, we believe our highest court can only reach the same decision the Supreme Court made in June, when it ruled the Domestic Partnership Act violates our Constitution protecting not only our freedom of conscience but also by outlawing discrimination on the basis of creed. All our eyes are on the prize of equality.”

OUTBermuda emphasized “that it supports domestic partnership rights for all Bermudians to choose, but not at the expense of denying marriage to some, especially same-sex couples.”

Bermuda Marriage Timeline provided by OUTBermuda:

May 5, 2017 – Bermuda Supreme Court decides same-sex couples may marry, with the final order issued on September 22, 2017. No further appeal was granted to opponents. A number of marriage licenses for same-sex couples were issued following the Court’s May decision.

November 2, 2017 — The newly elected Bermuda Government introduced a bill to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships. The law was intended to provide Bermuda domestic partners with many of the same rights as married couples, particularly in areas such as pensions, inheritance, healthcare, tax, and immigration. The law was adopted the following February 2018 and ordered to go into effect on June 1, 2018.

February 16, 2018 – A legal challenge was filed against the new law, with a second lawsuit filed by OUTBermuda and other parties on April 3, 2018. Ultimately, the Supreme Court combined both lawsuits to consider the Constitutionality of marriage equality.

May 21 and 22, 2018 – Oral arguments, on behalf of OUTBermuda and other litigants, opposing Bermuda’s Domestic Partnership Act were made in the Supreme Court of Bermuda.

June 6, 2018 – OutBermuda celebrates historic decision by the Supreme Court of Bermuda overturning the same-sex marriage ban and declares that “love wins!”

July 5, 2018 – The Government of Bermuda decides to appeal the Supreme Court’s decision to the Bermuda Court of Appeals.

November 7, 8 and 9, 2018 – Oral arguments will be heard once again on behalf of OUTBermuda and other litigants seeking full equality in marriage for Bermuda.

Frequently Asked Questions  provided by OUTBermuda:

Before Bermuda’s Domestic Partnership Act was passed, were same-sex couples able to marry in Bermuda?

Yes, for a relatively brief period of time between May 12, 2017 and February 2018, provided that the same-sex couple wishing to marry had applied for a marriage license by May 12. We believe that official records indicate ten same-sex couples married on the island. There also were four same-sex weddings performed on board Bermudian-registered ships. Those marriages are deemed fully legal today.

Is Bermuda’s Domestic Partnership Act in full legal force today?

Yes. See here

Who is suing in support of marriage equality in Bermuda?

OUTBermuda, which served as a co-litigant in the original lawsuit, joins again with Roderick Ferguson, Maryellen Jackson and others seeking to defeat the Government’s appeal and to achieve full marriage rights. Other litigants include faith leaders such as Sylvia Hayward-Harris and Wesley Methodist Church, as well as citizen-activists Julia and Judith Aidoo-Saltus, Chai T, and Douglas NeJaime. Encouragement and additional financial support has been given OUTBermuda from Carnival Corporation.

Who are the attorneys advocating for same-sex marriage before the Court of Appeals?

Legal counsel again will be provided through the services of Rod S. Attride-Stirling [ASW Law Limited] and Mark Pettingill [Chancery Legal], as well as Ronald [Ronnie] Myers [Marshall, Diel & Myers law firm].

When is a ruling anticipated from Bermuda’s Court of Appeals?

It’s impossible to say with any certainty, since this is entirely in the Court’s hands. However, it is anticipated that a decision will be made public within the next few weeks.

What happens if the Court of Appeals favors the Government, and bans marriage between same-sex couples?

OUTBermuda and the advocates for marriage equality may then seek final ruling from the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, which has ultimate authority in this matter.

What happens if the Court of Appeals decides in favor of OUTBermuda and reaffirms the Supreme Court’s decision to permit same-sex couples to marry?

We hope all Bermudians will embrace this decision as a victory for fairness and equal dignity for all citizens and our families. OUTBermuda will work tirelessly towards reconciliation with all Bermudians as well as to achieve full equality under the law of our nation.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We have one aim: equality under the law for all loving Bermuda couples and our families,”

    Sadly, equality under the law for all loving Bermuda couples and families is NOT the aim of the present Government

    • Playstation says:

      I have to agree with the above comment.
      The plp seem only interested in themselves.

  2. jay says:

    bermuda get a life…all these other nationals can come here and work but gays cant..please get over it…..go and find those people who just marry to stay in bermuda.

  3. Charlly X says:

    So…. What about race ? As a man of African descent ,I’m supposed to embrace this and still be discriminated against because of skin tone ? Lol !

    • sandgrownan says:

      That’s some pretty screwy logic right there.

    • Mike Hind says:

      Who is saying that? Who is suggesting that discrimination based on race is ok?
      No one. This is a false argument.

      Baseless dscrimination is wrong. Period.

    • question says:

      So do you suddenly see why equality for everyone under the law is a good thing?

  4. Hannah says:

    Thank you OutBermuda, Roderick, Maryellen, Sylvia, Julia, Judith, Chai T, Douglas, Wesley Methodist Church and Carnival Cruises for carrying on and supporting this important work!

  5. Me says:

    I find it shocking that the community has not been more vocal on their support this issue

    • Maryellen says:

      Why is it a shock? We have been told for so long that who we are is wrong. We have to told that we should be ashamed of who we are. We have been whipped and beaten by words of hate cloaked in bible verses of love. We have been trained that we should not speak out, even if doing so is to our benefit. We have been made to feel afraid for just being true to ourselves. And you wonder why we are still silent? I wonder if you would be so brave to speak up right now if you were a member of this demographic.