Ryan Bennington and his husband have changed their anniversary plans. Bennington has been to Bermuda more than 30 times and even celebrated his 30th birthday there. He always found the people warm and welcoming.
That was before Bermuda Governor John Rankin signed into law the Domestic Partnership Act, which bans same-sex marriage throughout the territory. The law, enacted Wednesday, comes less than a year after the island's Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in May. Bermuda is now the first jurisdiction to overturn the legalization of same-sex marriage.
"It's unfortunate, but I make my voice heard through my wallet whether at home or in my travels," Bennington explained in an email.
The decision has put Bermuda tourism and some major cruise lines in a difficult spot. Carnival subsidiaries Cunard and P&O Cruises are both registered in Bermuda. Regardless of where the ships are in the world, they will no longer be allowed to host same-sex marriages. Princess Cruises, also part of Carnival, has ships registered in Bermuda as well. In August, the three Carnival cruise lines said they had started taking bookings for same-sex marriages at sea.
Bermuda hosted 693,000 tourists in 2017, and these visitors spent $431 million. The same-sex marriage ban will force many couples to rethink their travel plans. Bermuda's cruise ship economy grew last year. Bermuda received 161 cruise ship calls, bringing 416,049 passengers, an increase of 4.6 percent, and the government was forecasting more growth this year based on the 2017 numbers.
"Bermuda will have a backlash," Justin Nelson, the president and co-founder of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email. "Countries and travels brands know that LGBT inclusive tourism is big business — and Bermuda is going to suffer painful economic losses because of its decision to turn back the clock on same-sex marriages."