Women plan legal action after marriage rejection

| 18/04/2018 | 472 Comments
same-sex marriage, Cayman News Service

Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden

(CNS): A woman from the Cayman Islands and her fiancée are taking legal action after their application for a marriage licence was rejected Monday by the General Register because they are in a same-sex relationship. Chantelle Day, who is Caymanian, and her partner Vickie Bodden, who is British, have been together for more than six years and now wish to formalise their relationship. Currently living in the United Kingdom, the couple want to get married in the Cayman Islands, return to the country to settle with their young child and, like all other Caymanian couples, enjoy a loving and lawful family life. 

But, Day told Cayman News Service, unlike other couples in long-term relationships who want their dream wedding and a future with their friends and family in their own country, that is not currently possible for them because of the continued discrimination that exists in Cayman when it comes to same-sex unions and gay couples.

“I am proud to be Caymanian but I am undisputedly a second-class citizen in my own country,” Day said, because equal rights are not extended to all Caymanians. “I would dearly love for my newly expanded family to return to my homeland, the Cayman Islands, so that I can be around my supportive family and friends, and raise our child in a stable and loving environment, teaching our child the Cayman way of life.”

The couple have tried persuasion and have engaged in protracted communications with the Cayman Islands Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to pave the way for a legal wedding but they have had no response from the Cayman authorities and little support from the FCO. So, after months of in-depth research, taking extensive legal advice both in Cayman and the UK and gathering the support of their family and friends here, Day and Bodden have made the decision to take on the injustice through the courts.

“We have not embarked on this decision lightly and we have tried to do this amicably by approaching the authorities in Cayman and the FCO, who both know that the law in Cayman is discriminatory but they have effectively forced our hands,” said Day, who is also a qualified lawyer. “We are not out to cause trouble, we just want the same rights as any other couple in love.”

She explained that their first move was to apply for licence to marry. On a visit to the Cayman Islands last week from London the couple headed to the General Registry and filed their application. But, as expected, on Monday they received a formal letter rejecting the application because the law defines marriage in the Cayman Islands as a union between men and women only. It is that rejection that the couple now plan to challenge by requesting a judicial review or bringing an action under the Constitution. Day said that the decision will be made very soon and a legal action filed as promptly as possible.

Day explained why they are taking this route, given that her fiancée is a native of Britain, where same-sex marriage is legal.  She said that while they could be legally married in the UK, that partnership would not be recognised here in the Cayman Islands, making it impossible for the couple to live long-term in Cayman, where they are both determined to settle.

“We don’t want to have to fight in the country of my birth to validate our marriage, as that feels extremely unjust. We want to be able to enjoy our dream wedding day knowing that it will be recognised,” she added.

The current situation would mean that if they returned to Cayman as a couple legally married in the UK, Bodden could not be Day’s dependent, as is the case with other spouses. Day pointed out that even same-sex foreign national couples where both parties hail from countries where such unions are legal have more rights under the law to enjoy a family life than she does as a Caymanian. Bodden and Day would not have the same protections simply because Day is Caymanian. They would not be able to make decisions about their health, pensions, property or any other important issue relating to family life.

Aware that the steps they are taking will cause some controversy, Day asked those who oppose same-sex marriage to put themselves in her shoes.

“Government has put in place a discriminatory policy that affects some Caymanians, making them less equal. People may not think that this is an important issue but it is. I am not the only Caymanian in this position; there are many more in a similar situation,” she said.

It is understood that over the last year the immigration department has turned down applications from at least two married Caymanians with expat spouses to have their partners live here as their dependents, driving them from their homeland.

Seeking a lawful family life in her home country, Day said that she sees no other way forward but the legal challenge to force the reluctant hand of government. Day said that she and Bodden should not have to take this action and she is disappointed, not just with her own government but the UK as well.

She said that same-sex couples are, as a matter of existing law, required to be provided with a legal framework to register their relationships and to acquire most or all of the rights of married different-sex couples, pursuant to a case in the European Court of Human Rights (Oliari and Others v. Italy ECHR, 21 July 2015).

“The lack of such a framework in the Cayman Islands is a clear and unequivocal breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is binding on the Cayman Islands government,” Day said, adding that the Cayman Islands government has acknowledged this breach. “I believe the government is fearful of their voters seeing them as willingly supporting the move. Instead they would rather use me as the scapegoat and burden my family with the task of holding them accountable publicly on a matter on which they are internationally obligated to comply.”

The local Human Rights Commission has also noted this legal obligation and has urged the CIG to address the issue in law — a call that has fallen on deaf ears. In her parting address to Cayman, former governor Helen Kilpatrick spoke about the need for Cayman to provide a legal framework for same-sex partnerships, an issue supported by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson.

The new governor, Anwar Choudhury, has also made it clear that he expects the local government to address the inequity over same-sex unions. But there seems little sense of urgency from the FCO to force the issue.

Although there are still strong dissenting voices about legalising same-sex marriage or equivalent legal unions, including from the government and opposition benches of the Legislative Assembly as well as the church community, an increasing number of Caymanians are recognising the injustice of the current situation and that the time is now right to make the move.

Day said she is still bemused that the British Government is standing back and choosing to ignore what is clearly direct discrimination and a continuous breach of the ECHR Convention in its territories.

But given the situation, they have no choice but to press on with their legal challenge, regardless of the cost. Confident they can win, they are hopeful of setting a date for their dream Cayman wedding sooner rather than later, and in the process making history as Cayman’s first same-sex marriage.

To assist Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden in their legal fight, visit their Gofundme page.

See Chantelle Day’s opinion piece in the UK’s Independent here 

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Category: Laws, Local News, Politics

Comments (472)

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  1. First of all, CONGRATS!! whoo-hooooooo!!! Second of all, unna better try worry about something that ACTUALLY has an effect on your Life…DART! People having the right to be legally recognized is the LEAST of Cayman’s worries… #DartIsland These silly bible-thumpers. Not only has some form of homosexuality been around since the dawn of time, but so have alternative genders (Happy #TDOV!)…save your Energy and focus on why the Island is vanishing and Caymanians are being severely and obviously DISPLACED at an alarming rate. Jobs & Homes, lost. smh…but unna wan focus on being anti-LOVE. Think forward, Peoples…oh, and stop giving all your monies to Rev. Gimmy Maw and pool that money together to help your neighbor(s) save their Home from being repossessed by greedy banks (who take your hard-earned money EVERY.SINGLE.Monday.morning!!). #WakeUpCayman and research why no other country wants the Darts. viva gay marriage! xo

  2. Kettle says:

    I really hope all these bible thumpers on here making comments and quoting bible verses, go home to their ADULTEROUS husbands and wives and quote that same stuff.
    Stop picking parts of the bible that suit your agenda all the blasted time. I hope you be in the court houses when cases regarding divorce/ alimony/ shared property/ child custody come about because a spouse had an affair. And I hope you start throwing your bible at those that fornicate and quote versus to them too.

    How do you know God isn’t going to condemn you for judging them, when he specifically said not to judge your neighbor. How are you sooo sure that being a gay is worse than be “judgy”, when God said both of those things?

    Focus on you, love all (except pedos, they can burn for sure) and have faith that GOD will handle when the time comes.

    Stop harassing the LGBT community.

  3. anonymous says:

    The way to effect any change in the constitution as regards same sex relationships will be through the democratic process, not appeals to individuals like a governor or some European court. The contents of our constitution reflect the collective will of our people. If you don’t agree with anything in it then work towards changing the will of the majority of our people. Neither the governor nor the courts have the power to usurp the constitution, and for good reason, as we live in a democracy in which the will of the majority prevails. This reality explains the refusal of the foreign office to get involved in the issue. My advice to anyone who wants same sex marriages to be recognized in the Cayman Islands is to work within its society to alter a majority of its people’s thinking on the matter, and not waste time and energy in believing there exists some kind of short cut to the democratic process. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good points, and quite similar to what I was eluding to earlier in this very thread.

      Unfortunately, the minute one dares criticise any aspect of the gay rights agenda they are tarred and feathered.

      – Who

      • Anonymous says:

        Two people think that they love each other and want to get married, but rather than discuss whether that is reasonable you want to divert attention to an agenda of some sort that only exists in your imagination?

        You speak with a Jamaican accent, the land of your infant nurture, yet you profess to speak for a Caymanian community on this site? You are a part of a vocal, but very minor community, and I’m truly sorry that you never experienced a true Caymanian childhood.

        Our prejudices, religion, and a host of other things we inherit from our parents and community long before we can really understand them. Those prejudices, like racial bias, are not our fault, and the best that we can hope for is to not pass them on to our own children. You seem to not only have inherited a hatred for gays that is very common in Jamaica, but you seem determined to try and force it down the throats of everyone around you.

        Perhaps I should leave you with the lyrics of a Kris Kristofferson song to ponder:

        Jesus was a Capricorn
        He ate organic food
        He believed in love and peace
        And never wore no shoes

        Long hair, beard and sandals
        And a funky bunch of friends
        Reckon we’d just nail him up
        If he came down again

        ‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
        Prove they can be better than at any time they choose
        Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
        If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me

        Eggheads fussin’ rednecks cussin’
        Hippies for their hair
        Others laugh at straights who laugh at
        Freaks who laugh at squares

        Some folks hate the Whites
        Who hate the Blacks who hate the Klan
        Most of us hate anything that
        We don’t understand

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: “You speak with a Jamaican accent, the land of your infant nurture, yet you profess to speak for a Caymanian community on this site? You are a part of a vocal, but very minor community, and I’m truly sorry that you never experienced a true Caymanian childhood….”

          Fascinating stuff! Do tell me more, kind Sir!
          (You must be my new stalker that follows me around CNS pressing for me to reveal my identity.)

          Re: “You seem to not only have inherited a hatred for gays that is very common in Jamaica, but you seem determined to try and force it down the throats of everyone around you.”

          1.) What makes you say that? (Please provide some evidence from this forum.)

          2.) I’d be careful referencing “down the throats of everyone” at times like these…

          Jus sayin…

          Jokes aside, maybe if you took the time to properly read what I have said on the issue at hand you would gain a proper understanding of my perspective on the specific news stories recently featured on CNS.

          – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      You do realize that slavery was abolished against the wishes of the majority in Cayman? Of course it probably helped that those enslaved were not allowed to vote on that matter.

      • Anonymous says:

        Slavery was abolished after almost 400 YEARS because it was no longer profitable to the original benefactors – not because after 4 centuries rich, White, Black people-owners suddenly grew a conscience one fine morning.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Caymanian Constitution doesn’t say anything about same-sex marriage. The only will of the people expressed with respect to marriage in the Constitution is an explicit grant of the right to marry to opposite sex couples. That doesn’t prohibit the government or the courts from recognizing same-sex marriages.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The main concern of this case should only be about is discrimination against our own Caymanian people!

    If Chantal was NOT Caymanian, her partner would be able to be her dependant on a work permit! There is a precedent for this.

    This is no different than my Caymanian husband having to get a work permit for me to stay home and raise our Caymanian child; if I hadn’t got status two years earlier!

    Why should Caymanians not have the right to have their partner dependant?

  5. Rick says:

    One this Same sex law is Establish then expects a new wave of immigrants via marriage to Caymanian

    • Kettle says:

      Don’t try to make that a deterrent factor. that LGBT persons cant marry or have their partners as a dependent when all the heterosexuals are marrying Jamaicans, Cubans, etc for whatever benefits they need/ want.

  6. World traveller says:

    I personally cant wait to have my “Big Gay Wedding” here in the Cayman islands – all those nice religious folks can attend too, because its coming. They can yell and scream all they want, but the law is law and we “nah independent and trust me we cant afford to be independent” so guess what Gay unions are on the way, you can dream, you preach but in the end those things will not change the law. We all deserve the same rights as heteros.

    Happy Hour beckons!

    • Anonymous says:

      Funny that you say it like that.
      The law is the law and we nah gah change it for unna two.
      So as you said. We nah independent.
      Which means you Follow the laws of the land or move on bobo.

      Gay unions are on the way you say? Thats a lot of faith to have.
      I actually have faith that Jesus is on the way as well.
      See you at happy hour Sunday morning.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As it is in the constitution.

    14.—(1) Government shall respect the right of every unmarried man and woman of marriageable age (as determined by law) freely to marry a person of the opposite sex and found a family.

    (2) No person shall be compelled to marry without his or her free and full consent.

    (3) Nothing in any law or done under its authority shall be held to contravene subsection (1) to the extent that the law makes provision that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society—

    (a)in the interests of public order, public morality or public health;
    (b)for regulating, in the public interest, the procedures and modalities of marriage; or
    (c)for protecting the rights and freedoms of others.

    (4) Spouses shall be entitled to equal rights and shall be subject to equal responsibilities as between themselves and as regards their children both during and after marriage, but this equality of rights and responsibilities shall be subject to such arrangements or measures as may be agreed, or as may be ordered by a court, in the interests of their children.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a grant of positive rights to opposite sex couples. It says nothing about same-sex couples.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes but my thing is it’s the law of this island whether we agree with it or not. This would be like someone lighting up some ganja in front of a cop then get upset and be shocked that they are arrested. They knew this was going to happen when they applied for the license so instead of petitioning the government, canvasing for support they built a big bonfire in the middle of the road and screamed “hey look at me” and demand people go around. I hope they get what they want if it makes them happy because whether they get married or not I couldn’t care less tbh. Their marriage won’t pay my bills or put food in my kids mouths. I would have more respect for them if tried working with the law first instead of being SJW’s and forcing people to bend to their whim. I would have voted for them but I don’t encourage spoiled children who throw tantrums to get what they want.

        • Anonymous says:

          They are working within the law of the land. The law of the land requires a couple who wishes to get married to apply for a marriage license. The law of the land says that the government cannot discriminate in the application of its laws on the basis of sex or other status. These two women applied for a marriage license and were rejected because the government discriminated against them on the basis of their sex and sexual orientation. When the government violates its own laws, the law of the land provides recourse through to rectify the harm through the courts.

          • Anonymous says:

            They were rejected because the law does not recognise such a union you fool

            • Anonymous says:

              The anti-discrimination provisions of the Constitution supersede ordinary laws, you fool. When an ordinary law contradicts the requirements of the Constitution, that ordinary law is infirm and invalid, you fool. Just because the LA passes a law doesn’t make it the law of the land when it contradicts the Constitution, you fool.

  8. Anonymous says:

    God’s timeless Word reveals His plan for humanity and His intentions for marriage and sexuality. While Scripture teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, these Bible verses aren’t about condemning homosexuals, gays, lesbians, or transgender people. Rather, read God’s loving warning and offer of grace for those who have strayed from His will for sex.

    James 4:12
    There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    We live in a fallen world with a fallen nature, but in Christ, we can be new creations.

    Blessings to all.

    • Anonymous says:

      The bible isn’t about condemning them? Umm did I misinterpret the story of Sodom and Gamora? Or the story of Lot’s wife? Donno bout you but that seemed pretty condemning to me.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lot’s daughters drunk him and went to bed with him (naughty vixens I dare say). Maybe you should actually read and study the Bible before trying to use it against those who study it regularly.

        I, nor anyone else who is honest about the Word of God condemns anyone, but God will. See the difference?

        If you choose to denounce the Bible and live “free”, that is your free will, which God gave you. But we are warned that our behaviour and actions are not without judgement. That’s all I am saying, be careful and cognizant of your life decisions and how it affects your human soul/spirit.

        I do not wish to hinder these two ladies (or anyone else) from living their lives, and as such, despite my own beliefs I wish for them to gain the legitimate rights which they deserve first and foremost as human beings.

        Just because I believe in the Bible and Elohim (God) does not make me ignorant to others’ beliefs, I just hold dear to mine own. Like others do.

        I respect your choice, you respect mine.

  9. annonymous says:

    same sex marriage is not allowed here. that is the sum total of the matter. get a grip!!!!

  10. Caymanian, forever says:

    Please revere the sanctity of our islands! Yes, we are a multicultural and multilayered country as a whole, but Christianity in all that it encompasses is still most valued within the hearts of Caymanians. We don’t want to be like the rest of the world in that they are leaving behind more traditional views to implement worldly ones. Previous comment spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah (I’m an archaeology major and yes, that place did exist!) But the point surpasses any threat that may come to the islands supernaturally as result of this. It’s the fundamental truth here as we are now and seek to live. Majority would feel VERY uncomfortable with this, whether it’s because of their religious beliefs or because they do not feel comfortable breaking with tradition. Our forefathers would roll in their graves! We worked so hard to build such a faith-based community, it is my only guess as to why Cayman is one of the safest countries in the world! And it’s so ironic that as we stray further from God, with a select few of the youth that were not raised with God instilled in them, crime is on the rise. Increased murders, bulgaries, and the [sexual] assaults on the younger generation both by just as young and older men and women, more increasing once again, happening amongst same-sex! So many young minds are being abused AND/or shifted! My only point being: May our anchor hold steady to the grounds! We break with faith—we break any little bit! Surely we will shall drift!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a brainwashed idiot and do not speak for the majority on this island.

    • Len says:

      There was a time that some of our forefathers would have rolled in their graves because we freed the slaves. sometimes it is just time to make changes regardless of what our dead forefathers would do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rebutting you argument is simple. The irony of proclaiming that following religious doctrine is the route to truth and salvation, is the that history of Christianity is riddled with child abuse and assault by senior members of the church.

      • Anonymous says:

        Christianity was never riddled, people were and still are.

        The Bible and the contents there in are a good reflection of how flawed all of man-kind is. Simple.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sanctity of which Island? Fool. Try sit down from talking rubbish less the same God you talking about smite you. Wasn’t a member of your own flock, a prominent Christian man from Bodden Town, convicted a few months ago for sexual offences against a minor. A young woman whom he was in fact grooming. And, instead of coming out against his actions, almost the entire Cayman Christian community either remained silent or pleaded for mercy to be shown towards him.

      “Sanctity of our Islands” my foot! A bunch of self-serving hypocrites, the whole lot of you, who don’t know anything other than hate and misery.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I would like to put forward another point if I am allowed.
    Those that are posting from an apparently harsh religious, spiritual etc point of view have yet to express what they are really thinking.

    Allow me to try and explain. Many of the ordinary people of Cayman who are now of voting age grew up with Sunday School and the Bible. Although they are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (who is?) they have a healthy, reverential fear of God, as any child would have of strict but fair parents.

    So did God actually destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, or is it just a figment of someone’s ripe imagination?

    Take a look here.


    Personally, I had a very vivid dream in July 2013 (4 dreams in fact, but one very clear) about a serious event coming to Cayman as a result of this matter in hand.

    I submitted my concerns to the government at the time and that is that. I will not waver on what I have seen and if certain people would care to look over their emails, they would be reminded.

    Tread very carefully on this matter, please.

    • E. Nygma says:

      So now we have gone from personal religious objections to straight up mysticism and soothsaying… and some wonder why people ridicule religion
      You have “forseen” that “God” will punish Cayman for allowing these “sinners” to do what they do

      Leaving out the fact that according to your own arguments “God” has been punishing Cayman and most of the Caribbean for hundreds of years without end with yearly hurricanes, earthquakes and devastating volcanic eruptions
      So let me get this straight you have forseen that God will punish Cayman and Cayman alone for gay marriage (forgetting that other countries have these arrangements and are still standing with nothing out of the ordinary in regard to natural disasters)
      Not to mention the fact that it is highly convenient when the religious look to natural disasters and claim it is the actions of their God punishing sinners, just as I have heard many here do in relation to places like Haiti and New Orleans.

      Forgetting Cayman has been pummeled by it’s fair share of natural disasters hundreds of years before gay marriage was even dremt up
      And you think the government should take your premonitions into account on their civil policy
      and theists have the audacity to say that the irreligious are arrogant
      You have fashioned yourself into some sort of modern day Cassandra

      As for your “discovery of Sodom” leaving out the fact that fires could devastate any early city and fires even devastated cities into the modern era, of course forgetting there just happens to be a city that was abandoned (not an uncommon occurence throughout history) that just happens to line up with your narrative, gow convenient.
      Forgetting the fact that there is no conclusive evidence
      Historians have also claimed to discover the ruins of the city of Troy, does that mean that we should believe that the Greek gods are real too?

      So lets just wrap this up, we should all be shaking in our collective boots because you had a recurring nightmare, but you have convinced yourself that “God” chose you and you alone to be the bearer of Cayman’s future. IF you honestly believe that is going to happen then why are you still living here? Shouldn’t you have fled to seek refuge in some airy temple where you can devote your life to your fortunetelling abilities
      What a load of horseshit
      Although I suspect you will just sit and stew until a hurricane comes or the fuel depot has a fire (again) and then assert your claims as some sort of prophet

      • Anonymous says:

        What do you expect? This is what religion does to people make them zombies with no concept of reality. Raving lunatics.

        • Anonymous says:

          Religion has nothing to do with it. God is not religious. Religion including atheism and politics controls people, but God just deals in truth.
          If you don’t respect yourself, just hate your Creator.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are entitled to your opinion and that’s pretty much all it is, an opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      You might want to see a psychiatrist…soon!

      • Anonymous says:

        Funny that you say that. I met one recently and the person in question was on the way to kill themselves via overdose.
        I shared the love of God and a tragedy was averted.
        This is completely true, but I do not expect anything good in this forum. Sad, sad people so into themselves yet hating the very ones that provide hope.

        No one has to perish. Jesus is real and ready to listen. Just talk to Him. He will here the cry of any humble heart.

    • Al Catraz says:

      Did the punishment from God have anything to do with a plague of iguanas?

      • Anonymous says:

        God knows. ?

        • Anonymous says:

          Hmm.. letsee… frogs.. boils… flies… rivers turning to blood.. first born dying… nope.. nothing bout iguanas. Guess whichever angel was supposed to unleash them was fishing that day.


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