Bryan: The people should know their options on same-sex marriages

George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan said he believed Cayman is still a far way off from being ready for independence.

During Friday’s 23 Nov., Finance Committee meeting that Bryan questioned Attorney General Samuel Bulgin on whether Cayman’s only options in the matter of same-sex marriages were; to either impose same sex marriage, or civil partnership, or to go independent.

On Tuesday 26 Nov., Bryan told the Cayman Compass he has no qualms with Cayman’s LGBTQ community, and his intention was not to create further division on the polarizing topic of same-sex marriage.

Bryan, referencing an article published in the Cayman Compass on 25 Nov. on the issue, said, “I hope that previous articles did not give the misconception that I am against any kind of same-sex relations or that I would go for independence as a result.”

Instead, he said his line of questioning was to help the people of Cayman understand that if they didn’t want same-sex marriage or a legally equivalent framework, it could mean “asking for independence”.

“Ultimately my line of questioning to the attorney general was to say, the people have a choice and they have to instruct their legislators what they want them to do on their behalf,” said Bryan. “So either we accept same sex marriages or we create some sort of framework that allows those rights to be adhered to or if we feel that we can’t accept anything of that sort in respect to same-sex relations; I wanted the people to realise what you’re saying is the only way out of that, as a result of being a British Overseas territory, is to be asking for independence.”

Bryan said he doesn’t believe that the issue of same-sex marriage should spark independence.

“Independence is a serious proclamation,” Bryan said.  “In my personal opinion, I don’t think that same-sex relations are strong enough to trigger a discussion about independence; particularly because we are not prepared for that avenue as a country at this moment.”

Bryan said the true stance of the people of Cayman on the issue of same-sex marriages is still not clear, because the people have never been asked.

“We’ve only have one tool so far that questioned the people about this topic, same sex unions or relationships, and that was through the constitutional referendum [in] 2009,” said Bryan. “It was actually an indirect question because in the constitution, it defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. So one can speculate that everybody agrees that marriage is supposed to only be between a man and a woman. But nobody can concretely say why you voted for the constitution. There are thousands of things in the constitution.”

Bryan said that simply isn’t a clear enough indicator as to the true position of the country on the issue.

“I think we should have done a direct question to the people,” he said. ‘Are you OK with same-sex marriages? Are you ok with civil unions or not, and if not one of those things then what do we do?’”

Bryan’s comments comes weeks after the Court of Appeal upheld a Government appeal against the legalisation of same-sex marriages in Cayman.

In their ruling, the Court of Appeal set aside the Chief Justice’s landmark ruling in March of this year, that legalised same-sex marriage. However, the appeals court found that the rights of same-sex couple, Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush, were being breached and needed “expeditious” resolution.

The appeals court did not state what the legal equivalent to same-sex marriages should be, nor did it  give a timeline for when legislation should be enacted. The appeals court also urged the UK Government to step in if Cayman’s legislators fail to bring about the relevant legislation.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has committed to bring legislation to legalise civil partnerships by the end of the first quarter of 2020. During Friday’s public finance committee meeting, Premier McLaughlin warned lawmakers that if they don’t act, the UK government would step in and, in all likelihood,  would implement same-sex marriages by an Order in Council.