Premier: No referendum needed on civil unions

No public vote on the acceptance of a legal status similar to marriage for same-sex couples is needed because the Progressives-led government has no intention of implementing such legislation, Premier Alden McLaughlin said Friday.

The possibility of a referendum on civil unions has been broached by two Legislative Assembly members – Bodden Town’s Anthony Eden and Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush – during their budget debates over the past two weeks. Both vehemently oppose plans to recognize same-sex marriage or any similar legal status in Cayman.

In response, Premier McLaughlin said there “need not be any such concern” that the issue is part of the current government’s agenda.

“This government is not pushing, nor are we prepared to move toward the recognition of same-sex unions or civil unions … or any such thing,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Quite what the U.K. does to this issue is another matter entirely.”

Mr. McLaughlin said his government’s efforts have been targeted at “avoiding as far as possible the making of an Order-in-Council which would impose such things on a country and a people who, thus far, I have no indication would like to see that as part of our culture.”

The local Constitution Order [2009] gives the governor power to legislate in situations where protecting British interests or avoiding contingent liabilities to the U.K. government arise.

The last such Order-in-Council to be issued involved the abolishment of the death penalty for murder in the early 1990s.

Mr. Eden, a founding member of the People’s Progressive Movement party [now called The Progressives], left the government benches late last year over the issue and became an independent.

The premier noted that Cayman’s constitution prohibits discrimination on a range of issues, including sexual orientation.

Cayman’s constitution and its Marriage Law recognize marriage as being between one man and one woman.

On Friday, Mr. McLaughlin cautioned legislature members to take care in how they address the civil unions/gay marriage issue.

“My view … is simply this: When I read my Bible and ponder the teachings of Christ, I recall well his exhortation to us to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ I do believe we need to love and be tolerant of one another and appreciate that discrimination in any form is wrong. Our constitution speaks to Cayman being a God-fearing country based on traditional Christian principles, including tolerance.”