Governor imposing DP bill, not same-sex marriage

| 05/08/2020 | 303 Comments
Cayman News Service
Governor Martyn Roper

(CNS): Governor Martyn Roper will push through the Domestic Partnership Bill, which was defeated in the Legislative Assembly last week, rather than legislation giving full marriage equality for same-sex couples. Roper will be imposing the law through his Reserved Powers under section 81 of the Constitution and not by an order-in-council directly from the UK. The governor said it was a position he had not wanted to be in but he had no choice because he must uphold the law.

Following the controversial debate in the LA last week, the premier had warned that the UK would likely impose same-sex marriage instead of forcing through the Domestic Partnership Law, an opinion that was supported by a number of local attorneys and other commentators, and was an option that the local LGBT community had campaigned for.

But the governor said in a statement that the Foreign Office had decided that passing a version of the current bill would be the right approach, as this would fully comply with the Court of Appeal judgment.

However, there are flaws with the DP bill, not least the creation of a register of same-sex partners, which people feel could act as an open invitation to abuse same-sex couples. Nevertheless, the governor said he will publish the bill on Monday, opening a consultation period for 21 days before assenting to the bill and making domestic partnerships for same-sex couples legal by September.

Roper said that he will also address various other pieces of legislation at the same time that need to be changed to give effect to the law.

The governor pointed out that the Court of Appeal was clear that Cayman is in breach of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by failing to put in place a framework for same-sex couples that is functionally equivalent to marriage. The Domestic Partnership Bill satisfies that legal requirement and at the same time maintains the current definition of marriage, he said.

“It was my expectation, and that of the FCO, that all lawmakers would recognise their legal responsibility and pass the Bill after debate in the Legislative Assembly,” the governor said Wednesday. But the failure of MLAs to pass the bill left him with no option but to act to uphold the law.

“The question of same-sex marriage is currently before the Privy Council and it will reach a decision on the appeal early next year. I believe it is therefore imperative that the Domestic Partnership Bill is passed into law so that the discrimination suffered by Chantelle Day and Vicky Bodden-Bush, and others in same sex relationships, is brought to an end as required by the Court of Appeal.”

Roper added that this had placed him in a position that he never wanted to be in.

“Since arriving in October 2018, I have fully respected Cayman’s extensive responsibility for dealing with domestic matters. But I cannot simply stand aside when it comes to upholding the rule of law and complying with international obligations, which fall squarely within my responsibilities as governor” he said.

“In seeking to find a way forward, I believe I have been consistent and true to my pledge when I arrived to serve all the people of these wonderful islands to the best of my ability. I hope we can soon put this divisive debate behind us and come together as a people as we continue to navigate our way through a challenging global pandemic,” he added.

The decision to impose the flawed legislation rather than the simple original amendments to the Marriage Law by the chief justice in March 2019 does not rule out full marriage equality in the Cayman Islands in the near future because Day and Bodden-Bush might still win their case before the Privy Council.

It is also possible that the flaws in the current legislation, particularly the discriminatory elements, may lead to further legal challenges. While Cayman’s Marriage Law currently stipulates that the institution is the preserve of opposite-sex couples, the Constitution does not disallow any future right of same-sex couples to marry but rather defines the current right for opposite-sex couples.

See the governor’s full statement in the CNS Library.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (303)

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  1. JTB says:

    My neighbours got a domestic partnership and now I have an uncontrollable urge to leave my wife and daughter and job and make a new life and career in gay porn. Also I’ve started having sexual feelings towards my cat.

    Anthony Eden was right!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Time for CayExit!

    • Anonymous says:

      So much hate and intolerance on both sides of this argument!

      Unna seriously need to chill and been more human to each other.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why? Are you yearning for poverty? If so, Jamaica is a short plane ride away and you’ll lavish in the success of Jamexit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Time for education and birth control.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Such small minds in Cayman, still. If you can’t evolve on your own, the world will do the evolving for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, here in Cayman we don’t believe in evolution and consequently dinosaurs despite having them as MLAs.

      I kid you not my pastor (before I left the church during this controversy) told me that dinosaur bones were put in the ground by Satan to mislead us from creationism – and fool fool like me ate it up like turtle meat.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So this is what the masks are for, to keep us from all catching the gay!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sadly doing it this way, instead of simply adopting the CJ’s changes, means all the problems with the incompatibility of the bill with other legislation means there is a ton of additional legislative changes needed, all of which the LA will be able to block, or simply ignore, to undermine the primary purpose of the bill in providing equal rights.

  6. Anonymous says:

    FANTASTIC! The more gay men there are, means the more women there are for me.

    win win far as I am concerned

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately, this is not likely to help your Tinder game.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly !!! On the other side I don’t think I know a place with more LGBTQ people than Cayman. Especially men. Real gay heaven.Literally, I was so amazed. And I don’t understand why all the noises. It’s been forever.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just so everyone is clear on how we got here:

    (1) In 2009, the Cayman Islands democratically passed a Constitution that protects, under Section 9(1) of the Bill of Rights contained in that Constitution, the rights of all people to a private and family life.

    (2) In November 2019, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeals issued a judgment that said:

    “Section 9(1) of the [Bill of Rights] requires the Legislative Assembly to provide [Vicky Bush and Chantelle Day] with legal status functionally equivalent to marriage. Its failure to comply with its obligations under the law in that regard is woeful. That it had such an obligation has been apparent for several years. As the Chief Justice set out in detail, [Ms. Day and Ms. Bush], in broad terms, offered to compromise the present litigation on appropriate undertakings from the [Cayman Islands Government] to establish an institution of civil partnership. Even now, when during the course of argument, the court sought information as to what the [Cayman Islands Government] intended to do, we were merely told they were awaiting the outcome of the litigation. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Legislative Assembly has been doing all it canto avoid facing up to its legal obligations. In the meantime, Ms Day and Ms Bush (and their child) suffer in the many ways the Chief Justice set out. In our judgment, a declaration in the following form is appropriate:

    “In recognition of the longstanding and continuing failure of the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands to comply with its legal obligations under section 9 of the Bill of Rights and in recognition of the Legislative Assembly’s longstanding and continuing violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, IT IS DECLARED THAT:

    Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush are entitled, expeditiously, to legal protection in the Cayman Islands, which is functionally equivalent to marriage.”

    (3) In 2020, the Domestic Partnerships Bill was proposed in the Legislative Assembly in an attempt to offer “legal protection in the Cayman Islands, which is functionally equivalent to marriage”, which the courts of the Cayman Islands have held is required under Section 9(1) of the Bill of Rights of the democratically passed Constitution.

    (4) Instead of passing the Domestic Partnerships Bill into law, or providing an alternate law that would comply with the Court’s order to offer “legal protection in the Cayman Islands, which is functionally equivalent to marriage”, the Legislative Assembly ignored the Court’s order an voted the Bill down.

    (5) To ensure that the Cayman Islands Government complies with the Cayman Islands’ Court’s own order to afford Ms. Day and Ms. Bodden the rights provided for in the democratically passed Cayman Islands Constitution, the Governor has no choice but to step in to preserve the rule of law, because the Legislative Assembly has failed to do its job and ignored an order from its own Court.

    • Anonymous says:

      Curious why you left out the provision in the constitution that specifically addressed marriage as between persons of the opposite sex. What about that provision that was democratically approved in the BOR?

      • Anonymous says:

        Um, because the Domestic Partnerships Bill doesn’t have anything to do with marriage…? A domestic partnership registered under the Bill is expressly NOT a marriage, so Section 14(1) of the Bill of Rights is not implicated.

        Furthermore, the Court of Appeals specifically held that same-sex marriage, should it ever come to pass in these Islands, would not be incompatible with Section 14(1) of the Bill of Rights’ guarantee of marriage to opposite sex couples.

        If the Legislative Assembly or the Privy Council, choose to adopt same sex marriage, the Caymanian courts have already held that such same sex marriages would not violate the Constitution — they just wouldn’t be entitled to Constitutional protections.

        In the words of the Court of Appeals:

        “[The Chief Justice’s] understanding [was that] same-sex marriage could only be introduced by an amendment of the Constitution. That is not so. … [T]he Legislative Assembly could legislate for same-sex marriage. If it did, the resultant right to marry would merely not form part of, or be enforceable under, the [Bill of Rights].”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh no! I’m turning gay! The Christian loons were right. Gay couples are changing me … help! … I’m changing… help me Reverend Skykes! … I’m going gaaaaaay …

  9. Anonymous says:


    Seriously and Unfortunately, the time has come.

    • Anonymous says:

      Independence will not change the outcome. Larger and more powerful countries will always take advantage of smaller countries and countries that are not able to defend themselves. The end result of the order by the governor and the FCO could just as easily have been achieved by using a combination of sanctions and black listing against an independent Cayman Islands.

      The irony of the situation is the fact that small and defenseless countries need similar types of protections from bullying, harassment and abuse.

      • Anonymous says:

        If a country is not evolved enough for self determination, the civilized world will help them evolve whenever possible. Religion has slowed that evolution in places, especially the Caribbean. Education hasn’t been great and large portions of Caribbean society remain ignorant as a result. They’ll believe in magic claimed in a book written thousands of years ago, but can’t understand how two people of the same gender can love each other. Until people can let go of the hate that is intrinsic to such ignorance, the bigger world must act in the name of humanity and maintain some degree of control over these less evolved people, who would trample the rights of others to such basic things as Love. Just look at the debate and dialogue to find the hate and you understand the need to act. Quite pathetic, but necessary.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are not a country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have fun with the EXPatEXIT if you want to go independent.

      But in all honesty what two consenting loving adults do shouldn’t concern your ignorant ass. Take a look at your church mates who cheat or eat shellfish or beat their spouse or lie or or or!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why can’t we just send all the waste Caymanians to the Brac and let them be independent?

    • Anonymous says:

      For sure !

      Jon Jon said it- the power of the moon will protect us.

      I have never felt better in my life. The moon really does give you power- I mean look at good sunny boy Jon Jon.

    • Anonymous says:

      you leaving? bye 👋

    • Anonymous says:

      After this bs, you will not be allowed to leave. I kid you not.

    • Anonymous says:

      No chance. You just blew it. If you try to quit the UK because of gay rights, you are going to be hosts to an infantry regiment. Count on it.

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