Bermuda House approves same-sex marriage repeal bill

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Members of the Bermuda House of Representatives have approved a bill that would rescind marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British territory. Photo by Mike Oropeza; via Wikimedia Commons

Members of the Bermuda House of Representatives have approved a bill that would repeal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British island territory.

The Royal Gazette newspaper reported lawmakers approved the Domestic Partnership Act — which would allow same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships as opposed to get married — by a 24-10 vote margin. Lawmakers debated the measure for five hours on Friday before they voted on it.

“As it stands now, they can have the name marriage but without the benefits,” said MP Lawrence Scott, according to the Royal Gazette. “But after this bill passes, they have the benefits and just not the name marriage. The benefits are what they really want.”

LGBT rights advocates in Bermuda have sharply criticized the bill.

More than 60 percent of Bermuda voters in 2016 rejected marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples in a non-binding referendum. Same-sex couples have nevertheless been able to marry in Bermuda since Charles-Etta Simmons, a judge on the territory’s Supreme Court, ruled in favor of the issue.

The Bermuda Senate will now consider the Domestic Partnership Act, which will become law if Gov. John Rankin signs it. His government would become the first in the world to rescind marriage rights for same-sex couples if the measure takes effect.

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