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No decision yet on Preserve Marriage status

Charity commissioners are still deciding whether to recommend the renewal of Preserve Marriage's charitable status, which ran out on April 5.

The Royal Gazette understands that the committee failed to reach a decision at its last meeting and will look again at the application when it next meets, probably on April 18.

Preserve Marriage, which is against same-sex marriage and civil partnerships in Bermuda, was first granted charitable status last year, after 31 people submitted letters of objection to the Charity Commissioners. Preserve Marriage chairman Melvyn Bassett declined to comment on the renewal-of-status application last month but the group took out a half-page advert in this newspaper on March 30 in which it encouraged people to e-mail the commissioners to “share why you support Preserve Marriage's charity application”.

The advert said: “Refusal by the Charities Commission to allow Preserve Marriage to re-register as a charity could be considered discriminatory if the decision is based on, or influenced, by the obviously biased reporting on this matter, or any pressure from other charities which uphold an opposing cause.”

OutBermuda, a group which promotes equality for the island's LGBT community, was also given charitable status last year and applied successfully for renewal last month.

Its current status expires on April 4, 2018, according to information shared by its deputy chairman Adrian Hartnett-Beasley.

This newspaper has asked Registrar-General Aubrey Pennyman, via the Department of Communications, whether the two charities have had their status renewed and whether any letters of objection were received in relation to either renewal application. No response has been forthcoming after three e-mailed requests.

Richard Ambrosio, chairman of the Charity Commissioners, declined to comment.

Preserve Marriage did not respond to an e-mail.

The Registrar-General refused a gay couple's bid to wed here last year.

The couple subsequently brought a civil suit against him, the Attorney-General and the Minister of Home Affairs in the Supreme Court and a judgment is expected soon.

Preserve Marriage was an intervener in the case, arguing in support of the Government's defence that the Registrar cannot post marriage banns for gay couples because such unions are null and void under Bermuda's current laws.

The charity's lawyer, Delroy Duncan, also claimed that same-sex marriage could open the door for “multiple partner marriages” on the island.

The law allows charities who apply for renewal at least one month before their status expires to continue operating as a charity until their application is decided by the Registrar.

• Editorial note: The Royal Gazette stands by its reporting of Preserve Marriage's bid for charitable status.

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Published April 13, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated April 12, 2017 at 11:33 pm)

No decision yet on Preserve Marriage status

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