First Same-Sex Marriage Takes Place in Bermuda

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Sunday June 4, 2017 – Bermuda had its first gay wedding less than a month after a case brought by a homosexual couple ended with a judge’s landmark ruling that same-sex couples have a right to marry in the island.

Lesbian partners Julia Saltus and Judith Aidoo has the distinction of being the first same-sex couple to tie the knot, after saying their vows at the Registry-General before the Assistant Registrar last Wednesday.

On May 5, in a civil suit brought by Bermudian Winston Godwin and Canadian Greg DeRoche, Judge Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that not allowing same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Despite the historic ruling, the couple later opted to say their vows in Canada.

The news that the first same-sex marriage had taken place was disclosed during a Supreme Court hearing last Thursday.

During the hearing which was held to determine the exact wording of her order declaring that gay marriage is legal, as well as costs in the case brought by Godwin and DeRoche, Justice Simmons asked whether any same-sex marriage had taken place in Bermuda as yet.

Deputy Solicitor-General Shakira Dill-Francois and attorney for the Human Rights Commission, Rod Attride-Stirling, disclosed that one had been held the day before.

The historic nuptials have been welcomed by many.

Former Cabinet minister Renée Webb, who had tried unsuccessfully to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation more than a decade ago, attended the wedding.

She told The Royal Gazette newspaper that the newlyweds were not interested in “being trailblazers”, and “simply wanted to get married here”.

The Rainbow Alliance of Bermuda also congratulated the couple.

“Many other gay Bermudian couples have been waiting decades for the chance to marry their loved one and we’re excited to see people already take advantage of this move towards equality,” it said in a statement.

Mark Pettingill, who represented Godwin and DeRoche, told the newspaper that he was thrilled to hear about the wedding ceremony and expressed the hope that “there will be many more to follow in short order”.

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