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Gay marriage case returns to court

Court battle: Winston Godwin and his fiancé, Greg DeRoche

Wayne Furbert has said he will bring amendments solidifying marriage as between a man and a woman back to the House of Assembly as the debate over same-sex marriage prepares to return to the courts.

Speaking last night at a prayer rally organised by Preserve Marriage on the eve of a court hearing on the subject of same-sex marriage, the Progressive Labour Party MP said he would continue to push the amendments forward.

“I don’t know what the courts will do, but I will bring it back in June,” he said to applause.

Urging the hundreds at the rally to speak to their representatives in the House about their views, he said: “Don’t give up the fight. Don’t think this is over. The battle is not over.”

Mr Furbert originally tabled amendments to the Human Rights Act to limit marriage as between a man and a woman last year. The amendments were approved by the House of Assembly, but later rejected by the Senate by a vote of six to five.

The comments came less than 24 hours before Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche, are set to appear before the courts to fight for same-sex marriage.

The couple have brought a civil case against the Registrar-General for rejecting their application to marry, claiming the refusal breaches the Human Rights Act.

They are seeking an order from the Supreme court to compel the Registrar to post their marriage bans, in accordance with the Marriage Act. They also want a declaration that same-sex couples are entitled to be married under that law.

Preserve Marriage, which has campaigned to maintain marriage as between a man and a woman, has been allowed to join the case as an “intervener” in the proceedings.

Mr Godwin and Mr DeRoche are represented by Mark Pettingill, with the Attorney-General’s Chambers for the defendant.

Speaking last night, Mr Pettingill said that the case was expected to last several days in court as both sides present their arguments, stating the courts might not make a final decision this week.

“We are saying that as the law stands it’s lawful for same sex couples to seek a marriage licence,” he said. “We have a very strong, arguable case on the face of the law.”

While a ruling in the favour of his clients would open the door for other same-sex couples to apply for marriage licences, he said he would potentially seek an appeal if the decision goes against his clients.

UPDATE: this article was amended to remove the title of Shadow Minister of Economic and Social Development incorrectly given to Wayne Furbert. We apologise for the error.

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