The trial involving a same-sex couple contesting Cayman’s marriage laws will take place on Feb. 5, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ordered on Friday.
The decision means the Cayman Islands will get a test case trial on the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the territory.
Chantelle Day, a Caymanian lawyer, and her partner Vickie Bodden Bush have been in a relationship for six years and have an adopted child together. They are seeking a declaration that the decision of the deputy registrar to deny their application for a marriage license was unlawful and that they are entitled to be married in Cayman.
In a writ, filed with the Grand Court in June against the Governor of the Cayman Islands, the Deputy Registrar of the Cayman Islands Government General Registry, and the Attorney General of the Cayman Islands, lawyers for the couple argued that the Cayman Islands Constitution protects them from discrimination.
According to the writ, the Constitution has supremacy over other laws, which are required to be interpreted with “such modifications, adaptations, qualifications and exceptions as may be necessary” to conform with that document.
Justice Smellie gave the go-ahead in July for the case to proceed to a full judicial review hearing.
In effect, the lawyers argue that the deputy registrar could and should have construed the Marriage Law as allowing same-sex unions and approved the couple’s application.
They also argue that the section of Cayman’s Marriage Law that defines marriage as between “one man and one woman” is incompatible with various rights guaranteed under the islands’ Constitution and should be modified.
Last month, the couple filed a separate writ with the Grand Court, using the vehicle of a constitutional challenge rather than a judicial review, to have that aspect of the case considered. On Friday, the judicial review and the constitutional challenge writs were consolidated into one case.
Both parties have until Oct. 26 to file a list of issues to be determined at the hearing.