Colours Cayman: It’s time for governor to act

Expresses concern and disappointment over defeat of Domestic Partnership Bill

Local LGBTQ group Colours Cayman has called on Governor Martyn Roper to “fulfil his constitutional role” and “restore the rule of law” in the aftermath of the defeat of the Domestic Partnership Bill in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

The local advocacy group, through a statement issued by its founder Billie Bryan on Thursday, expressed “deep concern and disappointment” over the failure of legislators to remedy the discrimination meted out to same-sex couples who are seeking to legally formalise their relationships.

“His Excellency has a duty to uphold the Constitution, for which he has been vested with the tools in Section 81 of the Constitution, and to put an end to this unsatisfactory state of affairs. This is something that the Court of Appeal expected His Excellency to do if the Legislature failed to comply with their decision as they did today (Wednesday),” the Colours Cayman statement said.

The Domestic Partnership Bill was defeated by one vote Wednesday as lawmakers rejected – nine against and eight in favour – the proposed legislation which would have paved the way for same-sex couples and those in common-law relationships to have legal protection.

It did not provide an avenue for marriage, but one through which same-sex couples could derive the same legal benefits and entitlements under the law that married couples enjoy, a point consistently made by Premier Alden McLaughlin in his presentation of the bill.

He had released his government members of their collective responsibility, allowing them a conscience vote on the bill. At the end of the debate, Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour and councillor Eugene Ebanks joined with the Opposition and voted down the bill. Independent opposition member Ezzard Miller voted in favour of the bill.

Speaking in the LA on Thursday ahead of the vote, McLaughlin, who knew the bill would not be successful having heard members’ contribution during the debate, said they have no one else to blame but themselves when “the inevitable” happens and the United Kingdom steps in to impose same-sex marriage in Cayman.

“We have said over and over and over again in this House, outside this House, to the ministers of religion, we cannot avoid providing a framework to recognise the rights of gay couples, same-sex couples. We cannot. It is a constitutionally enshrined right. The courts have decided that. It is not a policy decision of the government and it’s the duty of the government and the Legislative Assembly to obey a declaration or to recognise a declaration of our Court of Appeal,” McLaughlin said in his speech.
That declaration being that government “expeditiously” provide Chantelle Day and her partner Vickie Bodden Bush with legal status equivalent to marriage, and in the absence of that, for the UK to step in and ensure that civil partnerships or a legal equivalent is implemented in Cayman.
Premier Alden McLaughlin piloted the Domestic Partnership Bill on Monday in the LA. He expressed disappointment that the bill was rejected.
McLaughlin, who opened his speech reciting Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If,’ lamented that no parliament can “long survive in a democracy that does not respect the rule of law. It will lose complete credibility.”
Colours Cayman in its statement said on the outcome of the bill, said it wasn’t just a sad day for the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Intersexed and asexual) community, but also a “terribly sad day” for the country and its citizens.
“The failure of our Legislative Assembly to pass the Domestic Partnership Bill has exacerbated and compounded what our Court of Appeal had already described as a “woeful” state of affairs. The rejection of the Bill by the MLAs that voted against it amounts to a blatant disregard for the rule of law and abdication of their responsibility. MLAs must secure adherence to the Constitution for the benefit of all persons in the Cayman Islands,” the statement said.
The group expressed displeasure at the turn of events in the Assembly.
“What we have seen on display this week in the Legislative Assembly, however, demonstrates that the faith we have in many who claim to lawfully represent us and keep our best interests at heart is severely misplaced,” it said.

Commenting on the contributions during the debate, Colours Cayman said, while some MLAs spoke eloquently and compellingly in favour of the bill, “the vitriol spewed” by so many other MLAs these past three days has left many in “our community feeling appalled, disheartened and betrayed”.

The group said while it respects that the people of Cayman hold fast to a wide and varying range of values, the bill “was ultimately about recognising and affording the rights [to] a sector of society that has, to date, been ignored, segregated and left unprotected, despite clear rights and protections in the Constitution to the contrary”.

Biases and beliefs, it said, should not preclude anyone from the enjoyment of any of their constitutionally enshrined rights, not least their right to private and family life.

“Basic human rights are not the result of a popularity contest, as some MLAs would like us to believe. For those MLAs who supported the Bill, Colours Cayman extends our thanks and appreciation. Despite some bristling and hesitation in a few cases, those MLAs are cognisant of the significance of this Bill and adopted a position that, while controversial to many they represent, is indeed the right one,” the statement added.

View the premier’s speech (starting at 1:15:07) and the vote:

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. “Colours Cayman in its statement said on the outcome of the bill, said it wasn’t just a sad day for the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Intersexed and asexual community) community, but also a “terribly sad day” for the country and its citizens.” You forgot a few Sexual preferences. Prince Andrew will be disappointed.

  2. If the values that the UK claims to stand for are real, not just words on paper, then the UK must now step in with an Order in Council and mandate MARRIAGE RIGHTS FOR ALL. Anything less would be “separate but equal” — which is always separate and never equal because it would say, essentially, that gays are second-class citizens who aren’t good enough for “marriage”. Hasn’t the developed world moved beyond that? If fairness and rule of law are the goal — and how can they not be? — then it must be marriage rights for all. Governor Roper, Prime Minister Johnson, Baroness Sugg, etc.: Please do the right thing and bring fairness to the long-suffering gay community in Cayman. (Haven’t we put up with the discrimination long enough? Did you read the horrible things that some of the members said about us on the floor of the Assembly this week? How can you allow this bigoted situation to continue for even one more day?)