Premier Alden McLaughlin welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision Thursday to put the issue of same-sex marriage back in the hands of the elected government.
The premier acknowledged that the government would now have to act on the issue.
“While I do appreciate the ruling, I am mindful that it comes with a declaration that requires immediate action from the Government,” he said in a press statement.
The Court of Appeal declared that “Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush are entitled, expeditiously, to legal protection in the Cayman Islands, which is functionally equivalent to marriage.”
The ruling would appear to pave the way for government to introduce some kind of civil-partnership legislation that confers the rights that derive from marriage, which range from immigration status to inheritance, to same-sex couples.
McLaughlin made no immediate commitment to table such legislation, saying, “The Government will carefully consider the full judgment to determine how best to proceed.”
The court’s judgment called for the UK government to “take action” if the local legislature fails to act quickly, stating that there can be “no justification” for further delay.
Governor Martyn Roper said the judgment was an “important moment” for the Cayman Islands.
“I will work closely with the Cayman Islands Government to ensure that the declaration that the Court of Appeal has made is acted upon as quickly as possible,” he said.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said in a statement, “We believe that all love is equal, which is why the UK Government changed our legislation to allow same-sex marriage. We hope that the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly will act swiftly and take a decisive lead on this issue to ensure same-sex couples are granted equal rights.”
McLaughlin added that government had brought the appeal to clarify important constitutional concerns about the separation of powers between the judiciary and the elected government.
“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has agreed with Government that the original ruling brought significant ambiguity surrounding the Constitution and Bill of Rights and the interpretation of and ability of the Court to amend laws. We believed it was critical that the country had the benefit of clarification on these very important constitutional issues,” he added.