Same-Sex Marriage

Marriage ban could be tested in court

  • Legal case: Mark Pettingill has been approached (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A legal challenge to a law designed to outlaw same-sex marriage could be fought in the Supreme Court.

Lawyer Mark Pettingill said his firm had been approached by a number of people and that he had been “instructed at this stage to pursue the potential for bringing an application to the Supreme Court on a constitutional challenge”.

The news came only a day after John Rankin, the Governor, gave Royal Assent to the Domestic Partnership Act, which was drawn up to replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships, which will also be available to heterosexual couples.

Mr Pettingill declined last night to give details on who had instructed him.

He added their nationality or gender was “not important” at this stage.

Mr Pettingill said: “What’s important is that they fit the category, under section 15 of the Constitution, of an individual who feels aggrieved and regards their constitutional rights as being usurped.

“We are working diligently on it; obviously we have looked at this point before.”

Section 15 of the Bermuda Constitution covers the enforcement of fundamental rights, and Mr Pettingill said the case would entail “a tremendous amount of work”.

He explained: “You have to exhaust all local remedies, meaning the first port of call is the local Supreme Court and then potentially the Court of Appeal and up to the Privy Council.

“If, and it is if, action is commenced, it has the potential to go the whole way.”

The former One Bermuda Alliance MP led the case that resulted in a May 2017 Supreme Court ruling that enabled the island’s first same-sex marriages to take place.