The Cayman Islands government has passed a motion to maintain the definition of marriage as it is currently written in the law: a union between a man and a woman.
“To me, this is one of the most important motions for this House and the people of the Cayman Islands,” said Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden.
The motion, brought forward by Mr. Eden during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly last week, follows a landmark judgment by the European Court of Human Rights last month which could force the Cayman Islands to change its stance on same-sex unions.
The Cayman Islands Constitution 2009 states that the government “shall respect the right of every unmarried man and woman of marriageable age” to “marry a person of the opposite sex and found a family.” The Marriage Law (2010 revision) defines marriage as “the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.”
However, there is no specific prohibition against civil unions, which can allow couples rights similar, if not equal to, married couples.
The ECHR found that Italy was in breach of the European Human Rights Convention for failing to offer adequate legal protection to same-sex couples. In response to the ECHR ruling, the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission called upon the government to enact legislation recognizing same-sex unions, and noted that without such legislation the country is in breach of the European Human Rights Convention and could be vulnerable to a successful challenge in the court.
Such a change is unlikely to happen easily, as the government demonstrated with its show of overwhelming support for Mr. Eden’s resolution. Every member present during the Aug. 13 session voted in favor of the resolution. Four members – Premier Alden McLaughlin, Joey Hew, Ezzard Miller and Wayne Panton – were absent.
Mr. Eden’s presentation on his motion, which he said was “based on Holy Bible evidence,” was not limited to a discussion of the definition of marriage. He also admonished homosexual behavior in general and warned people against “satanic confusion.”
Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo, who seconded Mr. Eden’s motion, said that, while he did not wish to “launch an assault on homosexuals,” in his Bible, homosexuality is a sin, and he “shouldn’t be expected to support legislation that would allow sin.”
Mr. Suckoo said that because the Cayman Islands are “culturally unique” its laws “must reflect the values that we think are important.”
“I know there are those who will think we must be bigots and homophobes and probably worse,” Mr. Suckoo said. “But I as a representative cannot support a lifestyle or concept that I think clashes with our chosen value systems here and our religious values.”
Finance Minister Marco Archer, who also spoke on the motion and voted in favor of it, said that while he thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman and that the law should reflect the values of the country’s citizens, some review of the law might be made to achieve equality.
“If the desire is for equality with respect to the protection of their rights, with respect to the ownership of property and the transfer of that property to their loved ones,” Mr. Archer said, “I believe it is possible for us to review our laws and see in what ways that can be done without considering or interfering or changing the definition of what God always intended to be marriage between a man and a woman, and what our constitution and our marriage laws currently provide for.”
This story has been amended from the original to correct the names of the MLAs who were absent during the vote.