Bermuda legalized same-sex marriage a year ago. This week it abolished it.


In an unusual move, Bermuda has abolished same-sex marriage less than a year after it was legalized, replacing same-sex unions with domestic partnerships.

Bermuda Gov. John Rankin signed a bill into law Wednesday that reverses an earlier Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. The new law gives domestic partners in the British island territory similar rights as married couples - but without the legal title.

The government said the Domestic Partnership Act is "intended to strike a fair balance" between opposing parties on the conservative island.

"While the majority of Bermudians do not agree with same-sex marriage," according to a statement on the government's website, "it is the Government's belief that this Act addresses this position while also complying with the European Courts by ensuring that recognition and protection for same sex couples are put in place.

>> Supreme Court rejects Texas case on gay-marriage benefits

"The Act is intended to strike a fair balance between two currently irreconcilable groups in Bermuda, by restating that marriage must be between a male and a female while at the same time recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples."

The British government said it disapproved of the move but couldn't rightfully intervene, and critics called it a dark day for civil rights.

"This is not equality," Joe Gibbons, a gay Bermudian who is married to his partner, told the Guardian. "And the British government has obviously just said, 'This is not our fight.' "

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was "seriously disappointed" by the new law, according to the Associated Press. But, the spokesman said, the bill "has been democratically passed by the Parliament of Bermuda, and our relationship with the overseas territories is based on partnership and respect for their right to democratic self-government."

Rankin was appointed by the United Kingdom.

>> Barry Manilow opens up about his decision to keep sexuality secret from fans

The Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled in May 2017 that same-sex couples could legally marry. Since that time, a handful of couples have done so, according to the Guardian. Despite the new law, marriages of those couples will still be recognized.

Same-sex marriage has been a sensitive issue in Bermuda. Voters previously opposed it in a referendum, and in December, Bermuda's Senate and House of Assembly approved the Domestic Partnership Act.

The government said this week that the act guarantees gay couples "equivalent" rights as married couples when it comes to inheritance, pensions and property, as well as the right to make important medical decisions for the other partner.

The Human Rights Campaign denounced the new law.

"Governor Rankin and the Bermuda Parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality," Ty Cobb, director of Human Rights Campaign Global, said in a statement. "This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda's international reputation and economy. Despite this deplorable action, the fight for marriage equality in Bermuda will continue until the day when every Bermudian is afforded the right to marry the person they love."


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

National Women's History Month: What is it, when did it begin, who is being honored this year?
National Women's History Month: What is it, when did it begin, who is being honored this year?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of a law making March Women’s History Month in the United States. The observation, which was born out of a California school district’s celebration of women’s achievements, now is celebrated across the country, and includes parades, lectures, health screenings, art exhibits...
Sen. Marco Rubio finds himself at center of gun debate, again
Sen. Marco Rubio finds himself at center of gun debate, again

When a gunman slaughtered 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., described it as a moment of revelation — a tragedy so grave that it helped prompt his decision to seek a second term.  A year and a half later, with no gun violence legislation having been enacted in the interim, Rubio is again at the center of...
Trump to speak at CPAC: What time, what channel, who else is speaking?
Trump to speak at CPAC: What time, what channel, who else is speaking?

President Donald Trump is scheduled to address an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday. Trump is set to begin speaking around 10:05 a.m. ET at the gathering of conservative activists being held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington, D.C. CPAC, hosted by the American Conservative Union, is held...
Why this gun debate is different from the rest
Why this gun debate is different from the rest

Around 2:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, President Donald Trump was in the study off the Oval Office when John F. Kelly, his chief of staff, arrived with news of a school shooting in Florida. Trump shook his head, according to an aide, and muttered, “Again.”  Mark Barden was visiting a playground named for his 7-year-old son killed...
Florida House votes to force schools to display ‘In God We Trust’ a day after refusing to consider gun control
Florida House votes to force schools to display ‘In God We Trust’ a day after refusing to consider gun control

If the Florida House of Representatives has its way, all public schools in the Sunshine State will soon be required to post the words "In God We Trust" - the state's motto - on all campuses where students and staff can see them.  The House voted on the legislation Wednesday — 97 to 10, with members standing and applauding the results...
More Stories