Former Opposition leader Ezzard Miller has given his backing to domestic partnerships legislation following the Court of Appeal’s ruling on same-sex marriage.
The appeals panel overturned Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage last week but ordered the government to “expeditiously” provide Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush with legal status equivalent to marriage.
Premier Alden McLaughlin has indicated that government will bring legislation in the new year.
He said if government did not act, based on the court’s order, it would likely face an order in council from the UK.
It is not yet clear what level of support civil partnerships – which confer the legal rights of marriage for same-sex couples but not the name ‘marriage’ – would get from the government’s own benches, let alone the Legislative Assembly as a whole.
Several legislators who have been opposed to such a move in the past, including Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, have so far declined to comment.
North Side independent legislator Miller said he had no issue with domestic partnerships legislation.
“I support the creation of bespoke legislation to create civil unions with all the benefits afforded to married people. I would also like to see Caymanian common law marriages included in the same law,” he said.
George Town Central legislator Kenneth Bryan said he would be guided by the people in how he would vote. He said the issue should have been put to the public long before now and suggested the upcoming Caymanian Voice National Survey would give a clear indication of how voters felt about the subject.
“I predicted there was a high probability that the court would have to send this issue back to the legislature to chose how they want to deal with it. That is why I say it is something that should have been put to the people,” he said.
“My initiative is now more relevant than it has ever been,” he said of his survey, which will canvas public opinion on both same-sex marriages and civil unions, as well as a host of other topics on Referendum Day, Dec. 19.
He said the results of that poll would guide his thinking on any legislation that comes before the house.
He added, “If the majority in my constituency say they don’t accept same-sex marriages or civil unions, then my job is to represent them.”
He said this was true, despite the threat of an order in council from the UK, if the Caymanian legislature does not act.
“As I said in my original debate, we are children in our mother’s house. We are still subject to the rule of the UK,” he said.
Bryan hopes to poll at least 10,000 people in a survey conducted from tents close to the polling stations where people will cast their votes in the separate cruise port referendum.
Additional reporting by Cayman Compass reporter Andrel Harris.