Premier Alden McLaughlin said he is “utterly humiliated” that the failure of local lawmakers to pass legislation on same-sex unions has forced the UK’s hand when it comes to the Civil Partnership Law.
In a statement responding to Governor Martyn Roper’s assent of the law Friday, McLaughlin said, “Notwithstanding our firm faith in God and strong Christian heritage, Cayman is not a theocracy but a democracy, and no democracy can long survive if it does not respect the rule of law.”
McLaughlin, who piloted the original Domestic Partnership Bill proposing a legal framework for same-sex couples to enjoy similar rights as heterosexual couples, said, “as Premier, I am utterly humiliated that because of our failure to do our duty as a Legislature, the UK Government has been forced to legislate for us”.
He maintained that the introduction of the bill was “the right thing to do as a society that values each and every person within it, regardless of race, creed, gender or sexual orientation”.
On Friday, the governor announced that he had assented to the Civil Partnership Law and had amended 11 laws aimed at giving same-sex couples a legal avenue to formalise their relationships.
It also allows heterosexual couples who do not wish to get married the opportunity to register a civil partnership for legal purposes.
McLaughlin reflected on the public debate that has been raging for weeks since Roper’s announcement last month that he would be exercising his reserved powers under the Constitution to push through the law changes. He said he was shocked “so many of our Legislators and, indeed, members of the broader community believe that it was right to urge the Government to ignore a declaration of our own Court of Appeal”.
He added, “And that they also believe that the Government is free to decide what category of persons are entitled to enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed right to private and family life.”
He said now that the Civil Partnership Law has been assented to by the governor, he prays it will be accepted as the law of the land “and the campaign against same-sex relationships will end, along with the demeaning rhetoric which has unfortunately characterised the public debate”.
McLaughlin said his faith tells him that “we are all created in the same ‘image’ and must reckon with God each for ourselves”.
He reminded that “Jesus urged us to do unto others as we would have done to us.”
The decision to push the law changes through, despite the rejection by local legislators, has served to increase the divide in the community on the issue of same-sex equal rights.
“Regrettably, much of the debate inside the Legislative Assembly and in the media has caused our sisters and brothers in the LGBT community to feel belittled, undervalued and ostracised. Jesus never treated people in that way, ever,” the premier said.
Now that the law stands, McLaughlin urged an end to the divide.
“I am hard pressed to find a reference in the gospels where Jesus castigated ‘outsiders’ even when their lifestyles didn’t comply with his view,” he said. “Let us as a community now seek to do as Jesus did.”