Gay couple to argue for marriage in court

  • Court fight: Greg DeRoche and Winston Godwin

    Court fight: Greg DeRoche and Winston Godwin

A gay Bermudian and his fiancé have been granted leave to argue in the Supreme Court that they should be allowed to wed on the island.

Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche, who live in Toronto, had their application to marry rejected by the Registrar-General last month and their lawyer Mark Pettingill sought leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision.

Mr Pettingill told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “We are pleased but not surprised that the court has granted leave and look forward to the full hearing of this important human rights issue. I think the entire gay community and all right-thinking people generally will be supportive of it and want to see it pursued.”

The Government backbencher, who is providing his services pro bono to the couple, said the couple’s application would be an important test case for the island and he was now preparing his case for when the hearing takes place.

The former Attorney-General filed a writ on behalf of the couple with the Supreme Court in July, backed up by affidavits from Mr Godwin and Mr De Roche.

The action seeks to have a judge overturn the refusal of the Registrar-General to process the marriage application, in accordance with the Marriage Act 1944, and issue an order requiring him to do so. The couple claim the Registrar has failed in his duties and should be made to act in accordance with the Marriage Act, on the grounds that it is discriminatory under the Human Rights Act for him to refuse to process the application based on their sexual orientation.

In his refusal letter, the Registrar cited the Matrimonial Causes Act, section 15 of which says a marriage is void if the parties are not male and female.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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