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Health minister represents gay marriage opponents

Cabinet minister Kim Wilson is representing same-sex marriage opponents in their bid to overturn a landmark ruling which allowed gay couples to marry in Bermuda.

Ms Wilson, the full-time Minister of Health, is the attorney of record for a group which filed notice of appeal on June 15 against the Supreme Court judgment.

She is representing the petitioners in her private capacity as a lawyer at Wilson & Co law firm. Ms Wilson said last night that her “involvement to date simply involved the filing of a Notice of Change of Attorney”.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman told this newspaper: “Any possible involvement in the case would not be as Minister of Health, therefore the Government is not able to comment.”

E-mailed questions sent yesterday to David Burt, the Premier, about whether there was the potential for a conflict of interest went unanswered by press time.

The civil case which paved the way for same-sex marriages on the island was brought against the Government of Bermuda by gay couple Winston Godwin and Greg DeRoche, who claimed the Registrar-General discriminated against them by refusing to post their wedding banns.

The Government lost the case, with Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruling on May 5 this year that denying same-sex couples the service of marriage was a breach of their human rights.

A number of gay couples have since married here.

The Government opted not to appeal the ruling but Preserve Marriage, a charity which opposes same-sex marriage and was an intervener in the court proceedings, is attempting to do so.

A separate group led by former politician Maxwell Burgess, which supports Preserve Marriage’s aims, is also seeking to appeal the ruling.

The notice of appeal for that group - described as the “second appellants” - was filed by lawyer Rick Woolridge, of Phoenix Law Chambers.

The notice said marriage was defined in common law as being between a man and a woman and the judgment offended the beliefs of those who upheld that definition.

It said the “cultural shift caused by the judgment was so offensive to the culture and custom of the significant proportion of the community” who voted against same-sex marriage in last year’s referendum and would erode the “custom of the island”.

Ms Wilson filed her notice to replace Mr Woolridge as lawyer for the second appellants on July 7, before the General Election.

Last year, she voted in favour of her Progressive Labour Party colleague Wayne Furbert’s failed parliamentary bid to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples.

It is understood that leave to appeal has yet to be granted to the petitioners.

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Fight for rights: Cabinet minister Kim Wilson is representing same-sex marriage opponents in their bid to overturn a landmark ruling which allowed gay couples to marry in Bermuda