Lawmakers spent most of the day Oct. 6 debating whether the Cayman Islands should hold a public referendum on allowing same-sex marriage in the territory.
The referendum motion failed by a 9-to-8 party line vote. Below are excerpts from the debate from each legislator who spoke in the debate.
“I cannot be sure that [other lawmakers’] view this as anything other than a very good political platform from which to launch the next campaign.”
“It is an affront to other groups, including religious groups and young Caymanian professionals who can’t get to full equity in professional firms, to just be talking about isolated issues. Anything that violates the principle of fair equality of opportunity must be called out and stamped out.
“All minorities should be treated equally under the law.”
“The greatest nation on Earth is literally becoming a cesspool, to the north of us.
“I will not support [this lifestyle’s] proliferation in Cayman.”
“We have now determined that one man is spouse to another man and [the Immigration Appeals Tribunal] is correct. I am saying they’re wrong. I am challenging the premier to tell this country why he did not instruct the attorney general to get judicial review on the decision [of the tribunal].”
“What bothers me the most about this is that for as long as we have existed, we have probably had gay and lesbian Caymanians. But what really brought this issue to the forefront was not a battle on behalf of those gay and lesbian Caymanians.
“This battle started when two non-Caymanians decided that they wanted to stand up for their rights and challenge our laws and our constitution.
“I have to ask: Why didn’t we take up this battle years ago on behalf of the gay and lesbian Caymanians? Why were they not so important?”
“If I leave here to go to work in another country, I’m not going there because the country is going to be better off. I am going there because I firmly believe that Ezzard Miller and my family are going to be better off socially and economically.
“Everybody coming to this country on a work permit knows what the laws in the Cayman Islands state before they come here and I resent the fact that they then get on a crusade to change our way of life and our laws to suit them.”
“We live in a more liberal society [today]. My kids, your kids, find themselves living in a different environment …. Let’s say the referendum comes down hard on our position, what are we then suddenly saying to those others? Are we further ostracizing them? Are we further making a community where we have gay children that are afraid to come back to their own island to live and are daily, some of them, leaving to go and live those lifestyles in other countries?
“The longer we go on about this, the worse it’s going to be. We’re going to be looked at like a bunch of old fogies in here because we’re going to be seen to be out of touch with reality.”
“What these people have done is perform their ceremony in another jurisdiction that allows it and then they come and say we must recognize it. That puts us in a dilemma, and it’s not about hating anybody.
“I think the government needs to come to grips with that issue. We are not changing any law … but your board does something which puts your government in a defensive position. I can tell you this – my board would not have done me that; they would have been gone the next morning.”
“My fear is that a referendum on the issue prior to the next election may do more harm to the healing of the nation than good ….
“I wouldn’t want anyone in the listening public to be misled into believing that if there is a referendum … I don’t want anyone to think that in itself is a deterrent to the United Kingdom imposing something on us by Order-in-Council.”
“With an election months away, $2 million cost before that on a referendum, I would say that I do not feel comfortable … to vote for a $2 million referendum and then … explain to somebody who comes to a constituency clinic, ‘Well, we were going to do some things, but we had to spend that money on a referendum.’”
“What would [a referendum] resolve? I’ve heard comments from the other side … that it’s time to put this issue through the ultimate democratic process, to a referendum, and resolve it one way or another and put an end to it. How does a referendum put an end to an issue which involves real people, human beings, how they feel, how they’re born? …
“It is no different from whether you’re born with brown skin or light skin, or you’re short or tall or any other feature.”
“This debate has caused me much angst, it’s caused me a lot of discomfort. Primarily because it has forced me to examine my own upbringing and the homophobic teachings that I received as a young man growing up ….
“I was brought up believing that homosexuality was a sin. I was brought up to believe that it was a choice that someone made, but I have to say after almost six decades on this Earth, I no longer believe that to be the truth.”