Gay ‘Marriage’ Comes to the Cayman Islands

News: World News
by David Nussman  •  •  April 2, 2019   

Chief justice rules that traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional

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GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands ( - Same-sex "marriages" are coming soon to the Cayman Islands due to a new court ruling.

On Friday, March 29, Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ruled that a law on the books defining marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

That ruling came in a case involving a lesbian couple, Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden-Bush. The pair filed a civil suit after they were blocked from obtaining a marriage license in April 2018.

About 80 people were present in the court when Smellie announced the decision.

The Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory. The government of the Cayman Islands is headed by a governor who is appointed by the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The country's Marriage Law, last revised in 2009, defines marriage as "the union between a man and a woman as husband and wife."

The perennial teaching of the Catholic Church is that marriage is between one man and one woman until death.

In his decision, Smellie ordered a rewrite of the Marriage Law, claiming it violates the rights of same-sex couples by denying them the legal privileges tied to marriage.

He stated, "By its ongoing refusal to recognize and respect these rights of the petitioners, the state has been and remains in violation of their rights."

Smellie called for a gender-neutral definition of marriage. He suggested that the new wording could read, "Marriage means the union between two people as one another's spouses."

The chief justice also ruled that Day and Bodden-Bush, the lesbian couple who filed the civil suit, have been subject to "indignity, inequality of treatment and inequality of legal status" owing to the Marriage Law's language defining marriage as specifically heterosexual.

Day and Bodden-Bush have said that they hope this case will help bring homosexual marriage to other British overseas territories around the world. They stated last year that they hope their suit will "set an example for all of the U.K.'s overseas territories."

Of the British overseas territories, there are only four remaining that recognize neither same-sex marriages nor same-sex civil unions: Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has stated that it has no intention of pressuring overseas territories into accepting so-called same-sex marriage.

Jonathan Cooper, a British lawyer representing the couple, called on the office to promote homosexuality in the territories, saying, "When will this government put its money where its mouth is and mainstream LGBT equality across the board?"

Their legal team has also suggested that the ruling in the Cayman Islands could have implications for Northern Ireland — where same-sex couples can have civil unions but do not have recognition as marriage.

This is the latest in a string of cases where countries and jurisdictions on islands in the Caribbean have recognized same-sex marriages.

In November 2018, Bermuda's top court overturned the government's definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

After the U.S. Supreme Court defined same-sex marriage as a constitutional right in 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges, the effects of the ruling were quickly applied in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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