Gay couples still allowed to marry
The first gay couple to marry on a Bermudian-registered P&O cruise ship is also set to be one of the last.
British couple Victoria Marno and Siobhan Crosby are due to marry in the Caribbean next month on the cruise line’s MS Azura.
But the just-passed Domestic Partnership Act will outlaw same-sex marriage not only on the island but also on any P&O ship around the world.
Ms Marno told The Royal Gazette: “When we first looked into a wedding at sea, we knew that it would just be ceremonial.
“However, I was confident the law would change by the time the date came round, which it did.
“When I noticed in the newspaper that the law was possibly being changed back, we were devastated.”
She added: “Thankfully, I believe our marriage will still be legal in Bermuda. It had certainly been a stressful time and especially with less than a month to go.
“To be told you can and then months later be told maybe you can’t is not fair.
“We wanted to make history for the right reasons and not just because we will be one of the very few to be married legally.”
The couple said they were thrilled after Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons’s landmark ruling in May paved the way for marriage equality in Bermuda.
But they started to worry when they heard that Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, had tabled the Domestic Partnership Bill, which was designed to replace same-sex marriages with watered-down domestic partnerships.
The Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday confirmed that Ms Marno and Ms Crosby’s wedding, as well as three other scheduled same-sex marriages in Bermuda, will be legal even after the domestic partnerships law comes into force.
A ministry spokeswoman added that any same-sex couples who posted banns before the Bill is signed into law will also have their weddings honoured.
Parliament last week approved the Domestic Parternship Act, which signalled an end to marriage equality on the island.
John Rankin, the Governor, however, has yet to give assent to the Bill and make it law.
P&O, which had announced it would offer legal same-sex marriages on its ships for the first time, said in British gay newspaper Pink News yesterday that it was “very unhappy” over the Bermuda decision.
A spokesman for the cruise line said: “We are very unhappy about this decision and we do not underestimate the disappointment this will cause those guests who have planned their weddings.”
Ms Marno and Ms Crosby have appeared in an article on P&O’s website to celebrate that they would be the first gay couple to marry on one of its Bermudian-registered ships.
The Ministry of Home Affairs also confirmed that marriage banns for same-sex weddings are still being accepted in the run-up to the expected law change.
A spokeswoman for the ministry said: “Until the law takes effect, the Registry General is still accepting same-sex marriage applications.
“Application forms for domestic partnership will be available on the date the law takes effect.”
But Ms Marno said: “I think it is out of order for a government to revert the law within such a short space of time.
“I feel as though the Bermudian government does not have the right to change the law without allowing the people of Bermuda to have a vote.
“I think they should have a binding referendum.”