GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Tuesday April 2, 2019 – While government’s position on the court ruling that made same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands legal is not yet known, the Governor of the British Overseas Territory has indicated he is in favour of the judgment, and has asked the population to be tolerant of those with different views.
Last Friday, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie handed down a ruling – in a petition filed by Caymanian Chantelle Day and her partner Vickie Bodden Bush after they were refused an application to wed in April 2018 – ordering a rewrite of the Marriage Law to give same-sex couples equal rights to marry. He had said that preventing those persons from accessing marriage and the suite of rights that come with it was a clear violation of freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, including the right to a private and family life, the right to freedom of conscience, and the right to freedom from discrimination.
There have been calls for the Alden McLaughlin-led administration to appeal, but the Premier has given no word on whether the matter will go further.
But in a statement issued yesterday, Governor Martyn Roper said the judgment “provides equal rights for everyone, a point which I and former Governors have previously emphasized”.
“I recognize there are strongly held and differing views across the Islands on the legal ruling on same sex marriage. Yet, it is important that all our citizens can play an equal and active part in society free from discrimination as set out in our Constitution,” he said.
“At this time I believe it is important that all of us continue to show tolerance and respect to others, particularly when we hold different views. I also believe that our highly respected and independent judicial system in the Cayman Islands continues to underpin our success. It protects our prosperity, constitution, good governance and our security.”
Chief Justice Smellie’s ruling, which took immediate effect, was for the clause in the law that specifies marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples to be amended to state that: “Marriage means the union between two people as one another’s spouses.”
He said it was the court’s duty to intervene to modify laws that did not comply with the Constitution, particularly in cases where the state had failed to act.