In world first, Bermuda repeals same-sex marriage legislation

A bill that would replace same-sex marriage with domestic partnerships in Bermuda has been signed into law by the governor of the British island territory.

Gov. John Rankin says he sought to balance opposition to same-sex marriage on the island while complying with European court rulings that ensure legal protections for same-sex couples.

The governor says the domestic partnership law grants same-sex couples rights that are “equivalent” to those of heterosexual couples. Opponents say it’s unprecedented to strip away the right.

“Governor Rankin and the Bermuda Parliament have shamefully made Bermuda the first national territory in the world to repeal marriage equality,” Ty Cobb, global director of LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement sent to NBC News.

“This decision strips loving same-sex couples of the right to marry and jeopardizes Bermuda’s international reputation and economy. Despite this deplorable action, the fight for marriage equality in Bermuda will continue until the day when every Bermudian is afforded the right to marry the person they love.”

A handful of same-sex marriages that took place during the months they were legal in Bermuda will be recognized.

In December, the bill passed both houses of the legislature by wide margins despite concerns it could hurt the tourism industry. Ranking signed the measure Wednesday.