Professor NeJaime Cited by Bermuda Supreme Court in Same-Sex Marriage Ruling


Professor Douglas NeJaime was cited by the Bermuda Supreme Court last week in a ruling that once again gave same-sex couples the right to marry in the country.

In its ruling, the Bermuda’s Supreme Court struck down part of The Domestic Partnership Act—a law that had barred same-sex couples from marrying—saying it was unconstitutional. It was the second time the Bermuda Supreme Court has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, the last time being in May 2017 when the court sided in favor of a Bermudian man and his Canadian partner who had challenged the rejection of their marriage application.

However, less than a year later, Bermuda’s lawmakers rejected the Court’s decision by approving the Domestic Partnership Act, which paved the way for the Court to make this latest ruling.

NeJaime submitted the affidavit as a foreign law expert and detailed how the U.S. would treat domestic partnerships, as opposed to marriages, from Bermuda.

“My affidavit showed that if Bermuda only provided domestic partnerships, rather than marriage, to same-sex couples, those relationships would likely not be recognized by the U.S,” explained NeJaime. “More specifically, the federal government would not furnish the rights and benefits of marriage to domestic partnerships or civil unions, and most states for most purposes would not extend the benefits of marriage to domestic partnerships or civil unions.”

The court cited his opinion in explaining how they arrived at its decision.

NeJaime was brought into the case by the attorney handling the matter in Bermuda, upon the recommendation of Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in the U.S.

NeJaime is an expert in the areas of family law, legal ethics, law and sexuality, and constitutional law. His recent scholarship includes “The Nature of Parenthood,” 126 Yale Law Journal 2260 (2017); “Marriage Equality and the New Parenthood,” 129 Harvard Law Review 1185 (2016); “Conscience Wars: Complicity-Based Conscience Claims in Religion and Politics,” 124 Yale Law Journal 2516 (2015), with Reva Siegel; and “Before Marriage: The Unexplored History of Nonmarital Recognition and Its Relationship to Marriage,” 102 California Law Review 87 (2014).