Cruise ship giant Carnival will push for equal marriage in Bermuda after ban backfires

Cruise ship giant Carnival has joined action seeking to restore equal marriage in Bermuda – after the law forced it to abolish onboard same-sex weddings.

Bermuda this year passed a law that replaces a ban on gay couples getting married, less than a year after they were allowed to marry for the first time.

The new law has caused chaos in the cruise ship industry, as a large number of ships are domiciled in the British overseas territory for financial reasons and are thus subject to its laws – meaning they can no longer carry out onboard same-sex weddings.

Carnival, a cruise ship conglomerate which operates 24 Bermuda-registered cruise ships under subsidiaries Cunard, Princess and P&O Cruises, this week joined the fight to restore equal marriage in the region.

The company threw its support behind OUTBermuda’s legal challenge, which seeks to have the law banning same-sex couples from marrying declared void and in contravention of the Bermuda Constitution.

(Creative Commons photo/Flickr user Tom Hostick)

The cruise ship giant is providing  financial, civic and PR relations support to OUTBermuda, and will file an affidavit supporting the legal action.

Carnival said the “active engagement” was important to the company, adding: “Carnival Corporation believes our employees, guests and the public at large deserve equal dignity and respect.”

It said: “As a company committed to equality, inclusion and diversity, we were disheartened by Bermuda’s reversal of [equal marriage].

“Our engagement includes providing OUTBermuda with financial, civic and public relations support, as well as involvement by our company.

“While we always abide by the laws of the countries we sail to and from, we believe travel and tourism brings people and cultures together in powerful ways. As a result, we believe it is important to stand by the LGBTQ community in Bermuda and its many allies to oppose any actions that restrict travel and tourism.”

In a statement, OUTBermuda said: “OUTBermuda, along with another plaintiff, Maryellen Jackson, have submitted an Originating Summons to the Supreme Court of Bermuda for that court to issue an order declaring that Section 53 of the Domestic Partnership Act 2017 and all other provisions in the act that deal with and give effect to that provision or have the effect of revoking same-sex marriage or making same-sex marriages void, are in contravention of the Bermuda Constitution 1968.

“OUTBermuda and Ms Jackson are actively preparing evidence for submission this week and an application to join their case to the Ferguson v Attorney General case so both cases can be heard together.

“The trial in the related action is set to be heard by the Chief Justice in May. The two legal teams involved have been in contact.”

It added:  “OUTBermuda recognises it is far from alone on this issue and has strong support and allies, including Carnival Corporation, one of several cruise companies that sail to Bermuda.

Related: Gay couple wed in groundbreaking same-sex marriage ceremony at sea

“OUTBermuda is proud to work with Carnival Corporation, which includes cruise line brands such as Cunard, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises, as the company has a long history of commitment to equality, inclusion and diversity.

“Among its many ongoing efforts, the corporation and its nine cruise line brands are recognized by the Human Rights Campaign for being among the top companies to work for by actively promoting LGBTQ equality, as a result of receiving a perfect score in 2018 and 2017 in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates U.S. companies on their treatment of LGBTQ consumers, investors and employees.”