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.
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: