BERMUDA: Parliament Repeals Same-Sex Marriage, Governor Gets Bill, Tourism Authority Raises Alarm

Minutes ago the Bermuda Senate voted 8-3 to repeal same-sex marriage and replace it with domestic partnerships. Last week the Bermuda House approved the bill in a 24-10 vote. The bill now goes to the governor and if he signs it, Bermuda will become the second place in the world where same-sex marriage was repealed after having been legal. The first place was California.

In June 2016, Bermudan voters overwhelmingly rejected same-sex marriage by a 2-1 margin in a non-binding public referendum. The opposition had been rallied with the support of US hate groups including the Alliance Defending Freedom, which provided materials featuring quotes from anti-LGBT activists Ryan T. Anderson and Mark Regnerus.

However in May 2017, the Bermudan High Court ruled in favor of a gay man who challenged the ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that Human Rights Act guaranteed his right to marry his Canadian boyfriend. (Their photo is above.) Marriages conducted since that ruling will reportedly remain intact if the governor signs the bill.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority expressed great concern in a statement issued before the Senate vote:

“Since last Friday’s vote, we have seen ample evidence of negative international headlines and growing social-media hostility towards Bermuda that we feel compelled to express our concern about what the negative consequences could be for tourism if the Domestic Partnership Bill passes the Senate this week. We believe the Bill poses an unnecessary threat to the success of our tourism industry.

“We urge you to vote no and appreciate the opportunity to lay out the reasons why. Importantly, we do not view domestic partnerships as a negative in isolation. In fact many jurisdictions permit domestic partnerships without adverse impacts on their economies.

“The circumstance in Bermuda is different — and troubling — in one important way: same-sex marriage is already the law of our island and to roll that back for what will be seen as a less equal union will cause us serious reputational damage. We are convinced it will result in lost tourism business for Bermuda.”

Bermuda is one of 14 British Overseas Territories and seven, for now, have legalized same-sex marriage. Following the High Court ruling in June, Bermuda-flagged cruise lines began offering marriages at sea.