Cayman Islands Governor Welcomes Court Ruling Making Same-Sex Marriage Legal

Governor Martyn Roper

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Tuesday April 2, 2019 – While
government’s position on the court ruling that made same-sex marriage in the
Cayman Islands legal is not yet known, the Governor of the British Overseas
Territory has indicated he is in favour of the judgment, and has asked the
population to be tolerant of those with different views.

Last Friday, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie handed down a ruling –
in a petition filed by Caymanian Chantelle Day and her partner Vickie Bodden
Bush after they were refused an application to wed in April 2018 – ordering a
rewrite of the Marriage Law to give same-sex couples equal rights to marry. He
had said that preventing those persons from accessing marriage and the suite of
rights that come with it was a clear violation of freedoms guaranteed in the
Constitution, including the right to a private and family life, the right to
freedom of conscience, and the right to freedom from discrimination.

There have been calls for the Alden McLaughlin-led administration
to appeal, but the Premier has given no word on whether the matter will go
further.

But in a statement issued yesterday, Governor Martyn Roper said
the judgment “provides equal rights for everyone, a point which I and former
Governors have previously emphasized”.

“I recognize there are strongly held and differing views across
the Islands on the legal ruling on same sex marriage. Yet, it is important that
all our citizens can play an equal and active part in society free from
discrimination as set out in our Constitution,” he said.

“At this time I believe it is important that all of us continue to
show tolerance and respect to others, particularly when we hold different
views. I also believe that our highly respected and independent judicial system
in the Cayman Islands continues to underpin our success. It protects our
prosperity, constitution, good governance and our security.”

Chief Justice Smellie’s ruling, which took immediate effect, was
for the clause in the law that specifies marriage is reserved for heterosexual
couples to be amended to state that: “Marriage means the union between two
people as one another’s spouses.”

He said it was the court’s duty to intervene to modify laws that did not comply with the Constitution, particularly in cases where the state had failed to act.

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