Bermuda Supreme Court judge rules in favor of same-sex marriage: VIDEO
A gay couple in Bermuda has won a Supreme Court challenge that paves the way for same-sex marriage.
Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche made a legal challenge after the Registrar-General rejected their application to marry on the island.
Godwin and DeRoche argued that the Human Rights Act took primacy in Bermuda and protected their right to marry.
On Friday, Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled in the couple’s favour, noting: “The common law definition of marriage, that marriage is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, and its reflection in the Marriage Act section 24 and the Matrimonial Clauses Act section 15 (c) are inconsistent with the provisions of the Human Rights Act as they constitute deliberate different treatment on the basis of sexual orientation.”
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The ruling continued:
“In so doing the common law discriminates against same-sex couples by excluding them from marriage and more broadly speaking the institution of marriage.
“On the facts of this case the applicants were discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation when the Registrar refused to process their notice of intended marriage.
“Same-sex couples denied access to marriage laws and entry into the institution of marriage have been denied what the Human Rights Commission terms a “basket of goods”, that is rights of a spouse contained in numerous enactments of Parliament.”
“The applicants are entitled to an Order of Mandamus compelling the Registrar to act in accordance with the requirements of the Marriage Act and a Declaration that same-sex couples are entitled to be married under the Marriage Act 1944.”
Godwin described the ruling as a big step but added “there is still so much more to do in Bermuda.”
“The ruling today is more than me and pieces of paper; it’s more than any of that, it is what it means for Bermuda moving forward.
“Now we can begin to fix some of these issues. People are going to have their opinions about this and that is OK. I am not here to change people’s opinions or how they think.
“I just want them to respect me and my relationship and my marriage that will happen here. This is a big step in the right direction and I cannot thank my legal team and my supporters enough.
“Hopefully, this brings forward hope and courage for those who were or are afraid to speak up or come out. This is a moment we are proud of and will never forget.”
Senator Jeff Baron, the Minister of National Security, added:
“Today’s ruling affirms that equality is for all — regardless of who you love, what you look like or who you pray to. And equality, when it’s real, isn’t conditional. Let’s acknowledge that there’s a tremendous amount of work to do, right here at home, to move barriers and heal our community. Let’s keep working together, let’s build this community of supporters and champions for equality.
“And despite hurtful attacks let us reach across and engage the most sceptical citizens and show them that Bermudian values; values of love, respect and inclusiveness, can be found in every corner of this island.”
However, in a statement, Preserve Marriage said Simmons’s decision “has ruled against many in the community of Bermuda.”
Watch a report on the ruling below.