Premier: DP bill about rule of law

| 28/07/2020 | 52 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Alden McLaughlin presents the Domestic Partnership Bill to the House, 27 July

(CNS): The Domestic Partnership Bill isn’t about marriage or sexual morality but the rule of law and the need for the Legislative Assembly to uphold it, Premier Alden McLaughlin told MLAs as he presented the bill to the Legislative Assembly on Monday. As what was expected to be another controversial debate began, the premier asked members how they expected the public to follow the law if they defied a court ruling by not supporting the draft legislation.

The premier said the proposed law related to the most contentious issue in his time in politics, but he made it clear that if it was not passed in the LA, it would almost certainly mean that the chief justice’s original amendment to the Marriage Law in March of last year, which legalised same-sex marriage, would be imposed by the UK.

McLaughlin explained the legal situation the country was now in as a result of the original legal case filed by Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden after they were refused the right to marry in 2017 because they were of the same sex. He urged members to be tolerant and compassionate and reminded them that homosexuality is not illegal.

“This is not a bill about the legality or morality of homosexuality. The issue of the legality of homosexuality in these islands has been settled for almost twenty years now,” he said, adding that whenever the same-sex marriage equality is raised, thunderous speeches railing against homosexuality are part of it.

But he said these views were irrelevant to the Domestic Partnership Bill.

“There is a very important principle at stake here today, but the rights and wrongs of particular lifestyles is not it,” the premier said as he, like many politicians, continued to perpetuated the notion that being gay or transgender is a choice.

The premier went on to explain that the bill was about whether the Legislative Assembly was “willing to uphold the rule of law”.

He said the bill was not about marriage between same-sex couples because Cayman has retained the legal position that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. But he said there was now a legal requirement to provide protection for same-sex couples, as demanded by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal.

McLaughlin stated that the failure of politicians over many years to safeguard the rights of some members of our society was what they now must address as a result of the findings of the appeal court. He said the declaration by the court was not only unequivocal. “It was robust and scathing.”

The premier said the “principle at stake” was whether or not the House would uphold the rule of law. “The Court of Appeal has challenged us clearly and directly to do so. As the court describes, it would be ‘wholly unacceptable’ for this House to ignore the court’s declaration and to refuse to act,” McLaughlin said as he read the judgment.

He asked how members can ask the courts to implement and enforce the laws they pass if they in turn refuse to be bound by the decisions of Cayman’s appeal court.

“How we can expect the people of these islands to be bound by the law if we, as lawmakers, refuse to do so?” he asked. “If we claim some moral right to ignore a very clear instruction from the courts, what is to stop every other participant in legal proceedings in these Islands from doing the same?”

Reminding the members of the oath of allegiance they had taken to serve the law, he said there was no time for further prevarication on the matter as the appeal court was “almost incredulous that, despite having conceded the legal principle, the government — my government, the government which I lead — had no plan or timetable for legislation to enact domestic partnerships”.

McLaughlin warned that the Day-Bodden case, which is now before the Privy Council seeking to reinstate the verdict of the chief justice legalising same-sex marriage and overturning the appeal court decision, would be strengthened if there was still no plan for a functional equivalent to marriage for gay couples here.

“If we fail to act then the Privy Council will… implement same-sex marriage because they have no means of assuring that persons in same-sex relationships are protected,” the premier said. “If we do not have a domestic partnership law in place then same-sex marriage will not be a difficult decision for them to make.”

If that happened, members would only have themselves to blame, he said. “This is our moment of truth. We can act and have a hand in making our own destiny or we fail to act and dither and allow others to do as they see best,” McLaughlin added.

But he also warned that if the LA did not act now, the UK was likely to impose same-sex marriage before the Privy Council case in any event, in line with the Court of Appeal’s direction. He said the LA could not abdicate its responsibilities, and to allow that to happen would “equate to moral neglect”.

Passing the Domestic Partnership Bill now provided the best chance of keeping future decisions about same-sex marriage in the hands of future Caymanian legislators, McLaughlin told the LA. He pointed out that the next generation feels very differently, and when they take over the reins of power it will be up to them to decide, as they probably will, that same-sex marriage should be legal.

Before outlining the details of the legislation, he confirmed that he had cleared the way for a vote of conscience on the government benches, meaning that they can vote according to their conscience or not vote, as he reminded the two independent members, Ezzard Miller and Kenneth Bryan, of their past public support for this type of legislation.

Read the address including the details of the bill in the CNS Library.

Watch McLaughlin present the bill to the LA on CIGTV below:

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Comments (52)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! The downvote bots are out in force for some of these comments!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Looks like the church brigaded some Pro-equality comments overnight as we slept. The other article doesn’t have such disapproval for pro-equality comments.

    The comment about Anthony Eden had 83 upvotes and 10 downvotes when I went to bed. Now it’s at 93 upvote and 100 downvotes.

    Void soon come for unna

  3. Anonymous says:

    While I support the proposed DP legislation it is clear that most of the MLAs that are going to vote for it are going to do so out of fear. Fear of what the UK will do seems to be the stated reason for most of the MLAs that will be voting yes.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The government does the not reflect the people. Most Caymanians are very accepting, even many religious people are accepting, but it’s a small minority that believes they are doing God’s work by spreading hate. I’ve seen different polls and the results show that most Caymanians support the right to marry for gay couples. That just goes to show the people are 2 steps ahead of their government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even the Bible talks about the separation of church and state. For a Christian MLA to mix politics and religion is a contradiction.

    • Anonymous says:

      I want to say there should be a referendum but to be honest that doesnt sit well with me. Having a referendum to vote on whether someone else should have the same rights as I do feels wrong.

      Yes, society has had to fight for recognition or creation of certain rights eg. women to vote, equal pay (still not there yet but you get me) so as a so called evolved society we should be able to grant certain rights without the need for a fight.

      I don’t think the DP Bill in its current form is sufficient butI think we need to get the framework in place to permit same sex marriages.

  5. Paulo Fierro says:

    Can we please ask GIS why the two videos of the proceedings have now been deleted from Youtube?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Churches can have whatever marriage they want to recognize within their walls. Civil unions can be for all and recognized by countries.

    Separate church and state

  7. Anonymous says:

    “the younger generation will drag these islands into the future whether our elders like it or not”

    Loved this comment by a younger Caymanian. As a 65 year old I get they want to hold onto power and preserve the islands as if it were still 1960, but we must move forward with the times.

  8. Anonymous says:

    To hell with the gays, but lets big up the woman beaters, rapists, pedophiles, and thieves in suits. We are paying these losers huge salaries. Complete embarrassment.

  9. "the next generation" -- Alden's admission of the truth says:

    It was completely clear that this bunch of MLAs are a bunch of dying dinosaurs with views that are NOT God-given nor cast in stone when Alden admitted that “the next generation feels very differently, and when they take over the reins of power it will be up to them to decide, as they probably will, that same-sex marriage should be legal”. May that day come as soon as possible so that Cayman can cast off its embarrassing bigotry and join the modern world. The bill that Alden is pushing does NOT supply equality or even equivalency. Imagine: having to put your name on a list for worldwide (Internet) inspection, essentially a list of homosexuals. As if that’s anyone business but your own. Cayman must offer gay MARRIAGE. And it will, thanks to the enormous courage of Vickie & Chantelle. Shame on Anthony Eden and the rest of the bigots for their extreme small-mindedness.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Premier does have the gift for gab and for deflecting the blame elsewhere..Reminds me of Shaggy..Wasn’t me?

    These guys are so full of themselves. Interesting how he makes it known that his fellow members can vote their conscience when he knows full well that he had to do that so Julie would have the option to abstain. Mark my words, every other one will vote yes with him..

    When are we ever going to trade these politicians in for some honest and trustworthy ones? So tired of the lip service..

    • Alden being Alden says:

      Do not be fooled Alden McLaughlin’s track record of mismanaging situations and bills he has brought forward that are poorly drafted and defective is well known. He told his team at their Saturday meeting to either support his position and the bill as drafted or he threatened to call an early election because he has nothing to lose. Reckless and self serving as usual.

    • Ambassador of Absurdistan says:

      Just Another Day in Absurdistan

      • Anonymous says:

        Could you stop this 9:54? It’s really really boring and unimaginative. We get your point. Now shut up.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why did the PPM/Unity regime rally so hard against “the rule of law” using our money, knowing they would inevitably loose? What kind of stupid is that?!? Fire their legal advisors and the Attorney General…then fire the Unity team and all the MLAs that backed their bullying campaign!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This government is a national embarrassment

  13. Vote the all out says:

    It was a disgraceful debate on all sides. They showed us all they are hypocrites and playing to the gallery happy to discriminate against a class of a people they fear for no good reason. The time has come to vote out all the bigots and hypocrites in 2021 elections

  14. Anonymous says:

    So – if you know what you are doing is unlawful, why do you keep doing it? Why are agencies of government continuing to act unlawfully when they KNOW the constitution requires otherwise?

    You are acting like despots. These are not the behaviors of a liberal democracy, or indicative of the rule of law.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Anthony Eden gave a whole ass church sermon on why gays will cause the Cayman Islands to sink. His disregard for other Caymanians clearly shows when the constitution provides me the right to not be hindered by government in regards to my choice of belief system.

    It is completely ok to recognize Christian heritage and live by your bible, but Buddhist Caymanians like myself constitutionally cannot be forced to live by Christian teachings! As a straight man this is why I empathize with the gays.

    Separate the church from state.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Most MLAs seem to be indicating that they are supporting the proposed legislation simply because they fear what the UK will do if they vote no. As such, it is important to make it clear to the public that the passage of the legislation was not achieved through an honest and democratic process. Instead, it was achieved through fear-mongering and a lack of respect for the views and long standing religious beliefs of the majority.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are all cowards and frauds. The bill is poorly drafted and is discriminatory at the core

    • JDempsey says:

      There were many in the US pre civil war (or indeed after) that felt that slavery and racism were divinely mandated (the Old Testament does of course implicitly approve of slavery).

      Presumably you would have been equally against abolition on the basis that it showed no respect for such views and long standing religious beliefs of the majority?

      • Anonymous says:

        Old Testament even advised the many reasons why and how, to punish your slaves…

        Advice from god? I didn’t think that was ‘his’ teachings…
        And this is another reason why I have trouble with organized religion.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 3.51 Utter dross. They had chances to implement legislation but chose to fight it instead believing that the courts would back them. They got a black eye and are now scrambling around trying to backtrack and are quite happy to blame the UK when they implement the bill. With a bit of luck the Privy Council will implement the entire same-sex marriage law. That’ll give a few on this island an aneurysm. Go Vicky and Chantelle. The modern thinkers are right behind you! Down with the Luddites!

      • Anonymous says:

        The luddites include the Attorney General. He needs to be replaced by the governor. I’d sign that petition in a finger snap.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong again. Basic rights are not derived via popularity contest. They are encoded to protect everyone and especially the minority. The government not only has a duty to uphold these rights via legislation, but also protect them via law enforcement. The entire LA should be held in contempt.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is scary how equality seems a wrong thing to some of you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    A surprisingly statesmanlike speech from the leader. Now we just need the dinosaurs in the LA to follow suit and get this law in place. I hope the MLAs remember that they are representatives of the people, and not just there to force their views on the rest of us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden is a joke who epitomizes insincerity and a lack of respect for people. Actions are what count not words. Look at his political life the proof is in the pudding

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s a confirmed a$$hole trying to get ahead of a Privy Council appeal he knows the government will loose. He even explained it in those slippery pragmatic terms so even the dumbest in the room (a very low bar indeed) could grasp the need for an emergency hand-brake turn. This transcript will be admitted as textbook perfect corroborating evidence for the 6-figure damages order that follows. We need a whole new room of representatives that will honour and represent all Caymanians, not just whoever is funding their account that week. Clearly none of them have the slightest prudence when it comes to wasting millions in public capital.

  18. EDSP says:

    Is it not for the legislature to legislate and for the courts to interpret?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. The UK legislated by passing the Statutory Instrument that is the Cayman Constitution Order, which prevents discrimination.

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