The process to create legislation to resolve the issue of same-sex unions in the Cayman Islands has started.

Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, speaking at the opening of Grand Court Wednesday, said his office is working on a civil partnership bill “which will be considered by government”.

Bulgin did not go into further details on the bill, and nor did the premier’s office when the Cayman Compass reached out Thursday for further information.

In a brief statement, the premier’s office said, “The process is starting, and the AG’s office is working on a draft bill. Hopefully, the premier can say more at the next LA (Legislative Assembly) meeting if things progress.”

The Legislative Assembly is set to meet at the end of this month.

How Cayman got here

Late last year, the Court of Appeal set aside Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s ruling in the case of Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush. The same-sex couple initiated legal action in a bid to be allowed to get married in the Cayman Islands.

Smellie, in his ruling on the case, rewrote the definition of marriage in the Marriage Law, which legalised same-sex marriages.

However, the government appealed the decision, challenging the chief justice’s decision to legislate from the court.

The appeals court upheld the government’s challenge and ordered it to “expeditiously” provide Day and Bodden Bush with legal status equivalent to marriage.

The couple had indicated they were considering appealing the appeal court’s decision.

Call for action

Both Governor Martyn Roper and the Human Rights Commission called on government to quickly resolve the issue.

In his New Year’s Day message, Premier Alden McLaughlin spoke of the same-sex marriage challenge, saying it was important for “us as legislators to determine the best way forward for our islands and find a solution that works for Caymanians”.

However, he did not set out a timeline for when the government would address the issue.

During the November sitting of the Legislative Assembly, McLaughlin said government is unlikely to deal with the issue until early 2020.

He said, in that message, “If we abrogate our responsibility to do so, we must accept that the United Kingdom will legislate for these islands as the Court of Appeal has suggested they do. That would be the worst possible result for these islands, not just with regard to same-sex partnerships, but more generally.”

Last week, George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan wrote to the premier asking that he consider extending the notice period from 21 days to 28 days for any proposed legislation related to same-sex relationships.

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