After a lengthy and at times emotive debate, legislators will vote on the Domestic Partnership Bill today (29 July).
The vote was expected to be called last night but shortly before 10pm, legislators voted to adjourn the sitting until the next day.
Premier Alden McLaughlin is set to wrap up the debate in the Legislative Assembly where he will respond to the criticism and concerns raised by his colleagues in the House about the legislation.
Given the expressed disapproval from at least three members of his own government bench, it seems likely that the bill will be defeated when it comes to a vote later today.
The official Opposition members have pledged to vote against the bill.
George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan, an independent legislator, said he would vote against the bill, even though it directly impacted his constituents Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush, who have taken their challenge to be allowed to marry to the courts.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller, also an independent, has given his support to the bill, as did Finance Minister Roy McTaggart, Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers, Commerce Minister Joey Hew, Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell and George Town West MLA David Wight.
West Bay Central MLA Captain Eugene Ebanks said he will vote his conscience. He did not categorically state whether he would vote yes or no, but he appeared to lean against the bill as he highlighted his Christian roots and beliefs in his short presentation last night.
Among the concerns raised by the MLAs was what several described as a lack of a proper consultation period.
If passed, the bill would give local same-sex couples the right to enter into a legal domestic partnership in the Cayman Islands, which may satisfy the Court of Appeal ruling on the Day and Bodden Bush case.
Despite widespread objection on social media, only a small number of people opposed to the bill protested outside the Legislative Assembly.
McLaughlin, introducing the bill on Monday, said bringing the legislation was “a matter of law”, and not one of “choice” for his administration.
“If we fail to act, then the Privy Council will, I am certain, act in our stead and implement same-sex marriage because they have no means of assuring that persons in same-sex relationships are protected as are required by both Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Section 9 of our Bill of Rights,” he said in his opening statement.
Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, in his contribution, highlighted this point, adding that the debate had turned into one about same-sex marriages, when that was not the aim of the bill, as the issue before the House was not concerning amending the Marriage Law.
He said the issue of marriage has been already determined by the court and it remains a union between a man and woman.
The Court of Appeal has “ring fenced” the institution of marriage, he argued.
However, he reminded lawmakers that “this is not a country of tyranny or run by tyrannists, we have to abide by the rule of law,” and therefore they have a responsibility to adhere to the court’s ruling.
He pointed out, like the premier and others who spoke in the debate, that Cayman runs the risk of having the UK impose the legalisation of same-sex marriages through an Order in Council.
To see who said what during the debate, check out the Compass’s Live Blog, which we will continue until the vote on the bill is complete.