OBA ‘receptive to going forward to full marriage equality’ – Simons
Extending full marriage equality to same-sex couples will be a priority for the One Bermuda Alliance if it regains power, according to party leader Cole Simons.
Mr Simons said he had taken a personal “journey” on the issue and now sees it as a human rights matter.
He told The Royal Gazette: “Marriage equality from my perspective – I think from a lot of people’s perspective – is a journey that people take.
“Because, I’ll be honest, and say that in the beginning, I was not receptive to it.
“I have evolved over time. And, I think, most governments have evolved over time from the traditions that said ‘no, no, no’ to ‘you know what, they have rights, they have a right to partnership, to a right to benefits’.
“So, I think our party has evolved and is receptive to going forward to full marriage equality.
“I would make it a priority in government because it is a human rights issue and it is such a part of society now we have to get on with it.”
Mr Simons’ commitment to make marriage equality a priority for an OBA government marks a pronounced shift since one of his predecessors as party leader, Michael Dunkley, when premier, called a non-binding referendum on the issue in 2016 when same-sex marriage was rejected on a turnout of 47 per cent.
Polls since then have shown majority support for marriage equality in Bermuda.
LGBTQ+ rights organisation OUTBermuda welcomed the move by Mr Simons to pledge to make marriage equality a key aim if the party retakes power and said it was ready to work with the Progressive Labour Party on the issue as well.
A spokesman for the organisation said: “OUTBermuda welcomes news that the OBA plans to make marriage equality a legislative priority should they assume power in the next, or subsequent, General Election.
“We are equally ready to work with the current government or, indeed, any government, to advance the rights of Bermuda’s LGBTQ+ communities, not just marriage equality”.
Bermuda’s ban on same-sex marriage has drawn international attention.
Same-sex marriage was made legal in Bermuda in 2017. But the law was reversed last year under the Domestic Partnership Act. That law only came into effect in March this year following a series of appeals that went all the way to the Privy Council in London.
To date, Bermuda is the only country in the world to make same-sex marriages legal – and then roll back the law to make it unlawful.
Privy Council judges found that the Domestic Partnership Act – which confined marriage to between a man and a woman – was not unconstitutional.
The OBA’s stance comes in the wake of a rare bipartisan move in the US Congress to pass laws protecting marriage equality.
A large number of Republicans joined forces with Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives to back the measure.