‘Little surprise’ marriage notice not posted
Mark Pettingill, the lawyer for a same-sex couple seeking to marry in Bermuda, has expressed little surprise that the Registrar-General's office had not posted his clients' marriage notice by the close of business on Friday, as required.
The office would have been uncertain how to act on the matter, he said, and would likely have gone to its own legal counsel for direction.
“There are several time periods involved, Mr Pettingill told The Royal Gazette last night. “There is a 14-day period for advertising, and if nothing happens by then, the next consideration is the court action.”
Ijumo Hayward and his American partner, Clarence Williams III, filed their notice last Tuesday with the Registrar-General's office.
There were 17 notices on display shortly before the office closed for the weekend, but theirs was not among them — meaning it had not been displayed within three days, in accordance with the law. However, Mr Pettingill said the ultimate test would be whether notice of the intended marriage was gazetted within 14 days.
“Speaking tongue in cheek, I can't blame them for this,” he said. “I'm sure they are a bit like a deer in the headlights, wondering what to do.
“They would have to go off and take appropriate advice. It will have to be resolved by way of legislative change or by an application to the courts.”
If the move by Mr Hayward and Mr Williams succeeds, it will stand as Bermuda's first same-sex marriage.
Mr Pettingill has argued that the Human Rights Act takes precedence over other laws, such as the Marriage Act.
Asked if it could be settled relatively quickly, he said: “Anything like this has to be done very thoroughly, looking at precedents from other jurisdictions as well as law from the UK and the European Union.
“All of these things have to be gone through very thoroughly and diligently.”
The issue has dominated local news since the Bermuda Government agreed to hold town hall meetings and to solicit comments from residents, in response to a petition in support of same-sex marriage that was launched this year by activist Tony Brannon.