No commitment from premier on gay unions

| 07/11/2019 | 63 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin welcomed the decision made by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal on Thursday allowing his government’s appeal against the chief justice’s ruling earlier this year, which legalised gay marriage. But despite the unequivocal direction from the panel of judges who heard the appeal that government must introduce same-sex unions that are legally equivalent to marriage, the premier has acknowledged the declaration but made no commitment to it. Nevertheless, the governor has said it will be acted upon quickly.

In a short statement from his office following the appeal court decision, the premier said, “While I do appreciate the ruling, I am mindful that it comes with a declaration that requires immediate action from the government. The Court of Appeal declared that, ‘Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush are entitled, expeditiously, to legal protection in the Cayman Islands, which is functionally equivalent to marriage’.”

But McLaughlin gave no indication how his government proposes to deal with the issue, given that a significant number of the Unity Government members not only oppose marriage equality but do not support the rights of LGBTQ people to access any kind of legal union. Instead, the premier stated, “The government will carefully consider the full judgment to determine how best to proceed.”

But the appeal court made it clear that government must proceed with a framework that would allow same-sex unions immediately. In the ruling the appeal court concluded that it would be wholly unacceptable for the government to ignore the order, as it has known for some time that it is in violation of its own constitution and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The judges said it was hard not to conclude that the Legislative Assembly was doing all it could to avoid its legal obligations and they supported the chief justice in his concerns that Day and Bodden and their child were suffering as a result.

Directing government to act immediately on their declaration, as it still remains in breach of the law, they pointed out that the courts are an arm of the government, and both the executive and the legislature must obey the law and respect court decisions. The judges said that if the LA does not address the issue immediately, the UK government should “recognise its legal responsibility and take action to bring this unsatisfactory state of affairs to an end”.

CNS has contacted all 19 representatives and asked them if they now intend to support the introduction of same-sex legal civil unions or if they would prefer the legislation to be imposed from London.

Opposition members Ezzard Miller (NS) and Kenneth Bryan (GTC) have both previously made it clear that they believe government should introduce the necessary legislation and not wait until it is imposed on them by the UK.

Miller said the judgment did not surprise him and he urged the Unity Government to act and present a bill to the Legislative Assembly for debate and passage into law, providing civil unions for same-sex couples and for churches to back it.

“The premier has my full support for such legislation and I encourage him to act before the UK intervenes and passes legislation through Orders in Council that allows marriages of same-sex persons. I call on all the religious organisations in the Cayman Islands to lean on their Christian tolerance and compassion to support legislation allowing civil unions between same-sex persons.”

All other members have failed to comment publicly to date or have made it clear they are opposed to both.

CNS also contacted the governor’s office, given his role now in ensuring that the court’s direction is followed. The office released a short statement from Governor Martyn Roper which gave a much clearer commitment to addressing this breach of the law by the government.

“I recognise that this issue generates strong opinions, however we should treat everyone equally and with respect,” Roper said. “I have carefully noted the decision and the comments that have been made and I will work closely with the Cayman Islands Government to ensure that the declaration that the Court of Appeal has made is acted upon as quickly as possible.”   

Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office called on the government here to act and provide equal rights for the LGBTQ community. “We believe that all love is equal, which is why the UK Government changed our legislation to allow same-sex marriage. We hope that the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly will act swiftly and take a decisive lead on this issue to ensure same-sex couples are granted equal rights,” an FCO spokesperson said.

In the ruling it is clear that the appeal court sympathised with the chief justice’s position and the reasons for his decision, because the government’s inaction had lead to the suffering of the family at the heart of this case.

But the appeal succeeded in relation to government’s interpretation of section 14 of the Bill of Rights, which protects the right to marry only for opposite-sex couples. This addresses one of the government’s grounds for appeal, as the premier said it had concerns that the chief justice’s decision could have also legalised polygamous marriage. But government’s other major complaint, that the had overstepped his powers by legislating from the bench, was not addressed by the appeal court in the ruling, as they allowed the appeal on different grounds.

McLaughlin had said the chief justice had brought into question the appropriate separation of powers under the Constitution and whether or not the court had exceeded its mandate, an issue that remains unanswered.

See the CICA decision in the CNS Library

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Comments (63)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    …..And as they go into the last turn, it’s neck and neck with the Kirkbots on almost all the comments…….

  2. Anonymous says:

    Best thing Alden done in his political life. Well done

  3. Anonymous says:

    MLAs are still living in the past. Just get this law enacted and lets move on. Anyone against this doesn’t have any Christian charity and should be ashamed of themselves for their opposition. Alden needs to show we are a tolerant and forward-thinking territory. Nuff said.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am content with the ruling of the Court of Appeal. If they had not ruled the way they did, in either direction, the case would undoubtedly have gone to the Privy Council. I think it is now unlikely that any further action will be taken as the risks are too high on either sides. And now we can all settle down and get back to the humdrum of politics or whatever.

      In the process, we have to get over this notion that the Courts are acting out of bounds when they rule on cases brought to them. As a population we may not be used to judicial reviews, but the Courts are the ultimate protection when either of the other two arms of government fail to do the right thing, or where people may have a case that needs to be heard and settled.

      It continues to be clear that the legislators are spineless for the most part—that is why the courts are exercising their role as an arbiter. They are stepping into the breach. I am proud that we have a judicial branch of government is independent and courageous.

      And while I do sympathize with the concern about how this influences our youth, I am far more concerned about the damage we do to individual, families and whole generations by judgmental, rejecting stances. This is particularly concerning as in many cases the lifestyles to which we object so much stem from a biological dynamic that people may not have much if any control over.

  4. Born Caymanian says:

    So, CNS, help me to understand, from reading your news article, are you really defending that a Judge or 3 Judges, should rule from the bench irrespective of our elected government ???

    CNS: I don’t really understand your question or what CNS has to do with it, but it does seem that you’ve learned right-wing buzz-phases from the US media like “ruling from the bench”. The job of the courts is to interpret the laws that have been passed by the lawmakers (our Legislative Assembly), including the Cayman Islands Constitution.

    Not all lawyers agree about everything. The chief justice interpreted it one way, the appeal court another. If this is taken to the Privy Council in London, they may well agree with the CJ. Who knows. We certainly don’t. However, what is not disputed by anyone with legal authority is that same-sex couples are currently being discriminated against, in contravention of the Cayman Bill of Rights and the EU Convention, and this must end very quickly and not be dragged out by the government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fox News has damaged so many Caymanian minds.


      • Anonymous says:

        Fox News has made many aware of the Democrat Party corruption!

        • Anonymous says:

          Its hilarious people are talking about Democratic Corruption as if just today it hasn’t come out that Trump has been running a fake charity and using the money on himself and is now being made to pay 2.5 million dollars in damages
          The part of Fox News you are referring to isn’t even their news programs their primetime shows are all opinion shows with right wing personalities not objective journalists bringing factual information

          Clinton and Biden are corrupt, but no one is moreso than Trump and his family not to mention his long history of working with organized crime, using illegal workers for construction and staffing his properties, claiming to be concerned about “America first” while having his products made in China, paying off prostitutes and pornstars to keep them quiet, dodging taxes and using loopholes to pool his family’s money

          Anyone who thinks a guy like Trump born with a silver spoon in his mouth is looking out for the poor and the middle class deserves to be conned

          When he is done destroying regulations and giving the rich tax cuts he will start going after social programs that the poor depend on to survive
          Going to be fun watching them rationalize that

        • Anonymous says:

          5.37pm While failing to expose Republican corruption.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When civil servants should expect a warning letter? Must they remain “politically neutral”?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Could Governor Roper please explain, given he is responsible for good governance, how it is that we have got to the stage where the Court of Appeal is publicly stating that the government of the Cayman Islands is woeful in its disregard for basic rights under our own constitution?

    He should know this unlawful action is not limited to the issue of gay marriage. Are we a country of laws or not? Any accountability?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well it seems like Ezzard has read the tea leaves correctly again, the court decision was as he predicted.
    So what will Arden, Alva, Anthony and Chris do now throw Kenneth Bryan out of their group. Is this not what they wrote Ezzard That stupid letter about and forced him to resign as Leader of the Opposition because he stated his personal position is to support civil unions.

    • Anonymous says:

      If anyone supports this nonsense, they have to go. What they’re doing is not in the best interest of our children.

      • Anonymous says:

        12:34 LOL, ‘in the best interest of our children.’ What a crock! Parents put kids into school here with no interest in getting a proper education, don’t support them with that education and then when they leave school with no qualifications and turn to crime bleat on about what good, church-going Caymanians they are. Wake up – same-sex issues are nothing compared to the in-grained (in-bred?) social problems we already have.

  8. JTB says:

    From paragraph 2 of the Judgment:

    “While they claimed they were entitled to marry, they sought as a minimum a declaration that provision should be made for them to enter into a civil partnership.”

    And from paragraph 116

    “…the Respondents, in broad terms, offered to compromise the present litigation on appropriate undertakings from the Appellants to establish an institution of civil partnership.”

    What that means is, Chantelle and Vicki offered to accept, from the get go, what the Court of Appeal has given them, but the government refused. So even though the Government ‘won’ the appeal, the Government – that is you and me – are going to be ordered to pay all of the costs of this unnecessary farce.

    In other words, the moral cowardice of Alden and co in refusing to accept what they and everyone else knew was the undoubted state of the law, and legislate for civil partnerships, because they didn’t dare offend the churches, has cost us all hundreds of thousands of dollars. That money has been wasted, largely on the fees of English QCs, when it could have been far better spent on the needs of Caymanians at home, because our politicians are cowards or bigots.

    Alden’s statement says the appeal was necessary to address the separation of powers issue, but that is self serving, dishonest rubbish. Firstly, that decision was only reached in the first place because the legislature didn’t face up to the inevitability of civil partnerships. And second, the court of Appeal hasn’t addressed the separation of powers point anyway, because they didn’t need to do so to decide the case. But hey, when did the facts ever get in Alden’s way.

    This case is generating a lot of heat and light about gay marriage. Fair enough. But what people should be getting angry about is what it tells us about the politicians we have running our country.

  9. E. Nygma says:

    “Separate but equal” systems are rarely if ever equal but then again, thats the entire point

    Demanding that a Caymanian make a “compromise” because a bunch of bigots can’t mind their own business seems like a great precedent to be setting though
    What other “compromises” will they be forced to make, are we going to arrest or detain them for public indecency like we have done in the past if they step too far out line? Is that compromise? The gays can live here as long as they keep their filthy habits to themselves, is a compromise?

    Will we let bigoted employers dismiss them arbitrarily when they see them provide documentation showing a civil union rather than a marriage in relation to benefits or other administrative records. Yes how magnanimous of to give them the crumbs, the burnt edges of recognition after years.

    You people love acting reasonable, there is absolutely nothing reasonable about the discrimination that we have allowed for decades, and there is nothing reasonable about enforcing your arbitrary morals onto consenting adults.

    Gay people have already made enough compromises to last lifetimes, they have sat back peacefully and allowed this horrific status quo to persist instead of rioting or protesting and making things ugly, they have hidden themselves in the corners of society while they are mocked, ridiculed and demonized in the public square.
    The time for compromise is long gone, they were patient, they were reasonable, they were willing to work something out, and you all spat in their faces and dismissed them outright

    They have every right and every justification to fight this ruling as far and as high as they can take it, just to spite you and your treatment.
    XXXX anyone who thinks these women, or any other consenting Caymanians and their partners should have to compromise to pacify bigots

    Seriously you people are out of your minds

    “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    Alden better take this compromise and pass the law, if he tries appealing this to the UK he won’t like the results

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is best to let the UK force same-sex unions on the people of the Cayman Islands. History will forever show that it was forced on the people and that there is a clear lack of respect for the expressed will of the people.

    It is also time to put in place mechanisms of accountability for the courts as we can’t have an unaccountable branch of government forcing the establishment of new legislation without being directly accountable to the people.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Since the court is making such a ruling. Its time for the court to rule that Religious Education or christiany be taught in every school on Island

    • Anonymous says:

      Or maybe ban indoctrination and let them make their own minds up when they’re old enough to understand the difference between fact and fiction?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, let’s teach Christianity in all government schools. But let’s do it honestly. Let’s teach our children that Christianity is only one of countless religions, and like all others it is illogical and without any evidence to support its most important claims. Let’s also be sure to teach our children that for two thousand years most Christian leaders have managed to be on the wrong side of slavery, women’s rights, gay rights, child abuse, social progress, scientific advancement, etc.


    • Anonymous says:

      7/11 9:16 pm: The Court was ruling on a case that was brought to court by the plaintiffs. If you have a case that deserves to be heard, then you can lay it on the court’s table for consideration. But remember it has to be a deserving case, that is, that someone has suffered unfair discrimination or unjustified ill-treatment by a branch of government. Something like that.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I wish that we could impeach the premier. Given his terrible stance on civil rights issues to his terrible stance on environmental issues he isn’t fit to lead anyone, much less a country.

    He then has the nerve to cry and moan on the assembly floor that people are criticizing his decisions and policies, dude you are a politician and the leader of the country so I hate to break it to you but criticism comes with the job and if you can’t take people questioning your policies then you signed for the wrong job.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I just ask people to keep in mind that love is peaceful and it matters not whether that love is shared between people of the same sex. Nobody is physically hurt or loses money because two people love each other, so why waste energy hating people or taking offence about love.

    We don’t have long on this earth, are we all not better off helping each other, respecting each other and embracing our differences. Let us all work for peace together and walk with each of our brothers and sisters in harmony.

    Love always wins in the end, these ladies prove that. Bless them for the strength of character to continue through their time of trial to help us move forward to being a society that respects love and eschews hate and discrimination.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As expected Alden and his hateful cronies will continue to be obstinate as long as they have the public money to burn.

    All the MLA’s who brought us to this point should be on the hook for this, use there pensions and salaries to settle the bill.

    • Anonymous says:

      Solved by a damages claim against them personally for breaches of the Bill of Rights.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Hateful”? I don’t believe that we should discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation, but why is it “hateful” if people have a different opinion?

      We are misusing this word, possibly because we hear it used on television in the context of “hate” crimes against minorities.

      But having a different opinion does not translate into being hateful.

      Let us all calm down and stop this use of hyperbolic, out of proportion language that contributes nothing to the dialogue but more unnecessary tension.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh please, get over it.

  16. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  17. Anonymous says:

    Typical lawyer’s approach to this, attempting a selective application of legal rulings? This issue is dead now – get used to it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Forget all the frothing at the mouth that goes on from the likes of those who appear on Orrett Connors radio show about the injustices of colonialism blah blah. Of course colonialism brings injustice but, sadly, Caymanians like OC’s favourite pundits like it because they can always blame EVERYTHING they don’t like on the British imposing it on them. In true colonial mentality, they lack the guts to make the unpopular decisions and act themselves and take the consequences.

  19. StandForRigteousnessNotWants. says:

    Christian tolerance and compassion for sin? Where are the Christains rights to stand for what they believe?


    Cayman doesn’t have to bow to EU and LGBTQ. Can’t wait for Brexit.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suppose you also protest every divorce, and you want a prohibition on alcohol and other intoxicating substances, or tattoos

      Your selective righteousness is always revealed for exactly what it is selective hatred and hypocrisy

    • Anonymous says:

      How does being attracted to a certain gender make you a sinner? Im a straight teenager and my soul hurts for the LGBTQ people of this island because they are constantly attacked and criticized but they can’t do anything to change who they are, trust me, I know people that have tried to ‘be straight’ but they just can’t change who they love. If being gay is really a choice, don’t you think these people would choose to be straight just to avoid the violence they face in their everyday lives? But they can’t, so they either have to hide it, or express it freely and risk being criticized or in some cases killed! I beg Christians to please understand that God does not hate gay people and that you are interpreting the Bible in the wrong way! How can God hate when he tells us not to hate? Gay people didn’t ask to be gay! They didn’t ask for the world to hate them! If you were real Christians you would accept these people as your neighbors and embrace them.

    • Anonymous says:

      OK, lets brake this down:

      >Christian tolerance and compassion for sin?

      Doesn’t your pretty book literally say to do this? Not that it matters because if the book is 100% right then you are undoubtedly already going to hell for many of the other weird offenses like woman wearing pants, growing more than one kind of crop, eating shellfish, not treating your wife like shes property etc. So why are you so hung up on this gay thing?

      >Where are the Christains rights to stand for what they believe?

      you still have them…. they never went away, nothing changed for you from when you went to sleep last night. Your rights and privileges are still the same the only thing that might change is that others would have the same rights as you. Also you misspelled Christians…

      >Cayman doesn’t have to bow to EU and LGBTQ. Can’t wait for Brexit.

      Oh boy, if you think BREXIT is going to mean the UK has a lighter hand in control of her colonies you are even dumber than I thought. Alden and his cronies know and are hoping that the UK will come down on this like a ton of bricks and take the problem out of their hands. Then they can claim they “fought the good fight” and get their pictures taken in front of churches to use on banners for the next election.

      You are being played.

    • Anonymous says:

      Normal people do support your rights and we are very tolerant of your weird religious beliefs. For example, if you don’t want to be in a gay marriage we’re okay with that. Be happy and best wishes. Now, what makes you think your intolerance of gay marriage extends to someone else’s rights and personal life?

      • alaw says:

        11:29 lets face the facts this tolerance vs intolerance thing will go on for ever because it will never ever end being the norm. !

  20. Let's make a stand once and for all says:

    I say all of us hetero who support equal rights, grab our “eggs” and make a stand once and for all. Our education system was delayed over 20 years because of the church; we are now in the 21st Century, and they continue to hold back our progress. >-<

  21. Anonymous says:

    To Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush, best wishes and good luck on your WEDDING day 🙂

  22. Anonymous says:

    So the Court of Appeal has upheld marriage for opposite sex couples but ordered that government must institute civil unions. That is a good compromise.

    I have no problems with this ruling.

    • Anonymous says:

      would you have a problem with the system of separate but equal for different races?

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly the point … discrimination in any form is abhorrent

      • Anonymous says:

        7/11, 7:25 pm: No I would not, because we would be violating human rights. “Applications by individuals … alleging that the state violates their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights can be made [to the ECHR] by any person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals,” according to Internet sources. However, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that marriage is not a human right. I am with them.

        This is why the Appeal Courts did not go in the direction of ruling in favor of marriage, reserving that for opposite sex partners, but opted instead for civil unions.

        • Anonymous says:

          In the response to 7:25 pm, 7/11, I meant I would have a problem with separate but equal for different races.

          And the Court of Appeal opted for civil unions because of the ECHR ruling on rights regarding marriage, among other reasons.

  23. Anonymous says:

    This works out good for the premier, now he can say he was forced to do it without losing his votes

    • Anonymous says:

      He has proven himself to be a coward again. Not a man to be trusted under any circumstances

    • Anonymous says:

      He lost most every which way to Sunday. This predestined outcome, expected by all, is now going to cost us millions. When will the magnitude of wastage and the consequences of poor discretionary judgment (not his to make) actually start to register with voters? We are short USD$185,000,000 due in 19 days because of decades of bad decisions by the same people!!!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Their plan was to always do nothing and let the UK take the heat for it when they are inevitably forced to intervene

    They had years to handle this issue without intervention, they chose not to act

    They are entirely to blame for any orders in council from the UK

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, I believe he wanted to keep kicking this can down the road until he was out of office but this is the next best alternative…

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps, but we’ll, once again, be faced with the tab for ongoing stupid ego-driven legal excursions, pandering to a couple thousand intolerant extremists.

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