An estimated 2,000 people, many dressed in white, attended a rally in downtown George Town on Saturday afternoon to protest against a recent court decision to change the Marriage Law to legalise same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands.
The demonstration, organised by local churches, came just over two weeks after Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush won their court petition to challenge a refusal by the Cayman Islands to allow them to get married.
On the Legislative Assembly steps Saturday, Christian leaders spoke out against legalising same-sex marriage, with one speaker calling the LGBT community a “sterile lifestyle that encourages same-sex couples that cannot reproduce”.
“The recent decision of same-sex marriage in this country is a grave and foundational assault on marriage, children, law and good order,” said Helene Coley-Nicholson, a former university lecturer in human rights, justice of the peace, and president of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship in Jamaica.
The rally’s slogan, ‘We Love All People, But We Say No to Same Sex’, could be seen on T-shirts, posters and programmes, as demonstrators held up placards quoting scripture verses.
Coley-Nicholson urged Cayman leaders, politicians and judges “to protect the Caymanian family” and resist any attempt to institute same-sex marriage.
“By gathering here today, we send a powerful message across Cayman, the region and the world, that the Caymanian church is strong and united and that the church is determined to preserve the islands’ godly heritage values and standards,” she told the crowd, many of whom had gathered under a large tent erected in the street outside the Legislative Assembly, and on the pavements nearby.
Among those in attendance were several local politicians, including Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and East End MLA Anthony Eden, all of whom who spoke out during a debate in the Legislative Assembly last week against Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s March 29 ruling to amend the Marriage Law to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Keynote speaker Pastor Andrew Ebanks, referring to the 2009 referendum which passed the Constitution, said as a nation, Cayman’s electorate already had its say on the issue of same-sex marriage.
“It was the UK who allowed Section 14 of our constitution to stay as marriage is defined between one man and one woman,” he said.
The wording of Section 14(1) of the Constitution states: “Government shall respect the right of every unmarried man and woman of marriageable age (as determined by law) freely to marry a person of the opposite sex and found a family.”
Section 2 of the Marriage Law states, “Marriage means the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife”. Chief Justice Smellie, in his ruling, changed the wording of that section to “‘Marriage’ means the union between two people as one another’s spouses.” The government has indicated it will appeal the chief justice’s ruling.
Pastor Ebanks told the gathering on Saturday, “I do not believe that same-sex marriage will be in the best interest of our people,” but he insisted that Christians were not being hateful “when we say we do not agree with same sex-marriage”.
“We are a Christian country, not because everyone in this country is a Christian but because we are a country that has been founded on biblical principles,” he said. “So, regardless of who comes here, with what beliefs they come here with, they are free to come with that belief, but they should come with the understanding we are determined to be a nation who writes our laws in way that are reflective of Christian values and ethics.”
Last week, the Court of Appeal granted a stay of the implementation of the amendment to the Marriage Law, pending the outcome of the government’s appeal.