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Crowdfund launched to back SSM fight

A crowdfunding campaign to raise cash to fight the next step of the Government’s legal battle against same-sex marriage has been launched.

The Crowd Justice campaign, which started on Wednesday, had already raised nearly $5,000 by last night.

Tony Brannon, the man behind the fundraiser, said: “I’m sure that what we raise will be a fraction of what the true costs end up being.”

Cash from the campaign will be put towards the legal fight against the Government’s legal attempt to ban gay weddings.

The Government confirmed in May that it had been given permission to take the case to the Privy Council in London, the island’s highest court of appeal.

Mr Brannon said he had mixed feelings about the Government’s decision to continue its fight.

He explained: “In some ways, I think it’s crazy that they are, but in other ways, I’m going ‘this is really good’.

“As sure as the sun comes up tomorrow morning, you’re going to lose in [the] Privy Council.

“This will be great.’”

Mr Brannon said that the case would set precedent and would make similar fights for same-sex marriage rights in other places easier.

He added: “Winning this case means that other territories literally have to follow suit.”

Bermuda’s Supreme Court ruled in May 2017 that gay couples could marry, but six months later, the Government passed the Domestic Partnership Act, outlawing same-sex weddings.

A challenge was brought against the Act by Bermudian Rod Ferguson. LGBTQ+ charity OutBermuda and others joined the legal action.

Ian Kawaley, the former chief justice, ruled in June last year that the parts of the legislation that restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples were unconstitutional.

He agreed to a request from the Government for his decision to be “stayed” pending an appeal, which meant gay couples could no longer marry.

The Court of Appeal upheld Mr Justice Kawaley’s ruling in November and lifted the ban on same-sex marriages.

The Government has now been given permission to appeal that decision to the Privy Council in London.

The Royal Gazette made a public access to information request for records related to the cost of the Court of Appeal case.

Gitanjali Gutierrez, the Information Commissioner, said this month that she would review a refusal by the Government to release the information.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers rejected the request on the grounds that the records were exempt under Pati legislation.

Marva O’Brien, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, upheld the refusal this month, after being ordered to issue a decision by Ms Gutierrez.

Mr Brannon said the crowdfunding campaign was also designed to raise global awareness about the case.

He added that contributions of any amount were appreciated.

Mr Brannon said: “It doesn’t matter if you contribute $10 or $1,000.

“If you believe that everybody should be equal in 2019, then please contribute whatever you can afford.

“Equality is priceless — but the cost to get to equality can be expensive.”