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Lawyer moved to tears over milestone decision

Lawyer Mark Pettingill hailed yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage as a victory for human rights in Bermuda.

Describing Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons' ruling as “everything we could have wanted, and more”, Mr Pettingill said that the successful outcome of the case was a major milestone for the country.

“I cried on Thursday night when I read the draft judgment,” he told The Royal Gazette. “It's been very emotional.

“Whatever I have done in my career, this is hands down the highlight. I have been an advocate of human rights and equality my whole life and this has very much been a human journey for me.

“It is one of those things that we could not have done without all the people that took part in the case and supported us from my junior Grant Spurling, to Rod Attride-Stirling, who brought so much to the table, to Shawn Crockwell and all the team at Chancery Legal.”

Mr Pettingill added: “This discussion has been healthy for the country and I hope we can now embrace the judgment, embrace love and peace and move forward.”

Lawyer Rod Attride-Stirling, who acted for the Human Rights Commission during the case, lamented that the legislature had not acted on the issue of same-sex marriage to put the issue beyond doubt.

“It is also a matter of great shame that the Attorney-General fought the case in the manner in which it was fought, ignoring the Bermudian cases on the proper interpretation of the Human Rights Act,” Mr Attride-Stirling said. “This should not have been so. I am glad to see that the Bermuda court has followed the courts, first of South Africa, which decided this issue in 2005, and then the United States which followed suit in 2015.

“The message of hate and exclusion has been rejected. Human rights means human rights for all humans. Equally. No one is excluded. Gays who want to marry can now do so.

“Bermuda owes a huge debt of gratitude to the two brave young men who brought this action, Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche. They will always be remembered as heroes of the human rights movement.”

Editor's note: given the landmark nature of this case, The Royal Gazette will divert from normal policy and allow comments. However, the thread will be closely monitored, with the worst offenders summarily banned before any final decision is taken to close comments

Mark Pettingill

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Published May 06, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 06, 2017 at 1:08 am)

Lawyer moved to tears over milestone decision

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