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Bermuda becomes first country ever to revoke same-sex marriage

The Domestic Partnership Act was signed into law today

Bermuda becomes first country ever to revoke same-sex marriage
Winston and Greg were the original plaintiffs in a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. | Photo: Twitter @RainbowBermuda

Today Bermuda became the first country to revoke legalized same-sex marriage. Instead, it has replaced marriage equality with domestic partnerships.

Governor John Rankin signed the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 into law today (7 February).

The bill clarifies that ‘a marriage is void unless the parties are respectively male and female’. A domestic partnership is essentially an interpersonal relationship between adults who share their lives without marriage.

Bermuda legalized same-sex marriage on 5 May 2017.

An initial victory gone wrong

The Supreme Court of Bermuda heard the case of same-sex marriage in early 2017. Chief Justice Charles-Etta Simmons issued the ruling in favor of it.

Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche (pictured above), were the original plaintiffs.

Simmons ruled that the Registrar must ‘act in accordance with the requirements of the Marriage Act’. Ultimately, she declared ‘same-sex couples are entitled to be married under the Marriage Act.’

However, when Progressive Labour Party gained a majority following the July 2017 elections, MP Wayne Furbert announced his intention to introduce a bill banning same-sex marriage.

They introduced the Domestic Partnership Act in November. It passed the House by a 24-10 vote and the Senate by an 8-3 vote.

All it needed after was royal assent from the governor — which it consequently received today.

Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown praised the Act, saying it ‘gives same-sex couples rights equivalent to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples’.

‘The Act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda,’ he continued. ‘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.’

A ‘deplorable action’

Ty Cobb, Director of the Human Rights Campaign Global, called it a ‘deplorable action’.

‘This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda’s international reputation and economy,’ he further stated.

However, he also added the fight in Bermuda is not over.


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