Marriage equality is back on again in Bermuda.
The islands had become the first nation in the world to ever repeal marriage equality when its lawmakers in February attempted to replace marriage with domestic partnerships. Gov. John Rankin signed the repeal and replace effort — called the Domestic Partnership Act — in February of this year.
The legislation came in response to the Bermuda Supreme Court ruling in May 2017 that the country must allow same-sex couples to marry. Many couples had already married by the time lawmakers made itillegal again, though their marriages were not annulled.
Now the Bermuda Supreme Court is back with another ruling, affirming that they really meant marriage — not domestic partnerships — with their original ruling. The new law is unconstitutional, the court ruled.
“Persons who passionately believe that same-sex marriages should not take place for religious or cultural reasons are entitled to have those beliefs respected and protected by law,” said Chief Justice Ian Kawaley, according to the Royal Gazette. “But, in return for the law protecting their own beliefs, they cannot require the law to deprive persons who believe in same-sex marriage of respect and legal protection for their opposing beliefs.”
When Bermuda repealed marriage equality, it set off backlash even in the United States. Tourism was threatened, warned officials.
“Bermuda just banned marriage equality,” wrote talk show host Ellen DeGeneres on Twitter in March. “I guess I’m canceling my trip. Anybody else?”
And CNBC reported that officials from Carnival cruises lobbied for reinstating marriage equality when it became clear that its Bermuda-based lines, Cunard and P&O Cruises, could no longer offer marriages at sea — no matter where in the world they were sailing. One member of the board of the Human Rights Campaign, Kirkland Hamill, wrote a guest op-ed for The Advocate that said he was born in Bermuda and would not return.
Today HRC is cheering the news. “The Bermuda Supreme Court has righted the injustice that occurred when Bermudian lawmakers made the islands the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC’s global department. “We congratulate the plaintiffs in this case on their historic victory ensuring that once again, Love Wins!”