The reversal of marriage equality in Bermuda continues to make international headlines, with a British newspaper reporting this week on the “devastation” of a couple whose cruise ship wedding has been cancelled.
The Sun newspaper reported yesterday that Stephen Henderson, 29, and Stuart Andrews, 36, from Coventry, Warwickshire, were due to get married on a Bermuda-registered P&O cruise ship in July 2019 in the Bay of Biscay but were told by the cruise line on December 20 that their wedding could not take place.
P&O, which ran a marketing campaign last year encouraging gay couples to wed on board its ships, explained to the couple that the Government of Bermuda was replacing same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships and offered a full refund.
But Mr Henderson told the tabloid newspaper: “It is just mad. It is the 21st century. It is the most important day of our lives. We were planning so much already. We got everything organised.”
A P&O spokeswoman told the UK’s Pink News last month that it was “very unhappy” with the Government’s decision to reverse marriage equality and did “not underestimate the disappointment this will cause those guests who have planned their weddings”.
A spokeswoman told this newspaper yesterday that the May 2017 Supreme Court decision which allowed gay marriage in Bermuda had “delighted” the cruise line as it had wanted to offer same-sex ceremonies for “many years”.
She said the introduction of domestic partnerships under a Bill passed by Parliament last month would “replace or overturn” that court ruling.
“Although we are awaiting further information from Bermuda, it is unfortunately likely to be the case that Bermudian law will not permit a same-sex wedding ceremony on board our ships after January 2018,” added the spokeswoman.
She said P&O Cruises would still love to welcome gay couples on board for a commitment or renewal of vows ceremony, officiated by the captain or a senior officer.
The spokeswoman did not answer questions from this newspaper about how many P&O customers would be affected by wedding cancellations and whether the reversal of marriage equality would impact whether the cruise line registered its ships in Bermuda in the future.
The Domestic Partnership Act has yet to be approved by John Rankin, the Governor, who has taken legal advice on the legislation. It cannot become law without his assent.
A Government House spokesman said: “The Constitution does not stipulate a timeframe for assenting to Bills. It will take as long as is needed for the Governor to satisfy himself as to its compliance with the Constitution and international obligations.
“There are a number of legal arguments which have been put forward and need to be properly considered.”
Couples whose marriage banns are posted before the law comes into effect will still be able to wed, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
That includes another couple from the UK who are due to marry on January 17 on board a P&O ship.
Vicky Marno and Siobhan Crosby, from Skegness, said yesterday that their ceremony in the Caribbean on board Azura was still fine to go ahead.