Clergy rejoices over Bermuda's gay marriage reversal as activists credit 'influence of the church'

Photo Credit: Caribbean 360

Photo Credit: Caribbean 360

 By NBC News/EEW

It was cause for celebration for many church leaders and thousands of Bermudians who gathered outside parliament on the usually sleepy island last year to protest the gay marriage law.

For the British overseas territory of 60,000 people -- known for low taxes and stunning pink-sand beaches -- this month became the first jurisdiction in the world to reverse a law allowing same-sex marriage.

Some rights campaigners have credited the influence of church for the shift, especially since, in Bermuda, two in three people are Christian.

The reversal has some activists wondering if Bermuda has set a precedent that will reverberate far beyond the island.

Same-sex marriage has become legal in 26 nations since the Netherlands led the way in 2001. Austria and Taiwan are set to join this list following court rulings on the matter in 2017.

So it came as a surprise to many when Bermuda reversed its decision and introduced a new Domestic Partnership Act that let islanders form domestic partnerships but not marry. The government said gay couples who had wed would keep their status.

It is worth noting that, only a dozen or so same-sex weddings have taken place in Bermuda or on cruise ships registered in the territory in the nine months since it became legal.