CMC – Attorney General Samuel Bulgin says the Cayman Islands government will have to consider a ruling on Friday by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie that the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional and violated multiple rights.
Bulgin, who described the ruling as “very interesting” said “understandably, the government will have to take some time to consider it and think about how to move forward.”
Attorney Ben Tonner, who represented the couple – Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden, who had last year applied to get married in the islands but were turned down – said that his clients were “delighted that their relationship has been recognised at long last.
“The Chief Justice’s decision demonstrates in unequivocal terms that the rule of law and the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom are alive and well in the Cayman Islands,” he added.
In his ruling, the Chief Justice ordered that section 2 of the Marriage Law be changed to state that “marriage” means “the union between two people as one another’s spouses.
“This court is bound not to allow the violation of the petitioners’ rights to continue without redress. The constitution, in its mandatory requirement that the law be brought into conformity, must prevail. The petitioners and their daughter are entitled to the indignities to which they have been subjected being put to an immediate end by the court,” the Chief Justice added.
At least 80 people were present in the court on Friday when the ruling was handed down and attorney Jonathan Cooper, one of a team of British barristers who represented the women, said the ruling had widespread implications, not just for LGBT+ rights in other overseas territories, especially in the Caribbean, but also in Britain.
Friday’s ruling means of the 20 jurisdictions over which the UK has a legal relationship, 15 now permit same-sex marriage.
But the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla do not permit marriage or civil partnership. Bermuda Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage last year.
Day welcomed the court ruling telling reporters she thought it deeply wrong that in 2019 she and Bodden had been forced to fight for the right to marry in court. She said they had tried to persuade the island to change its law without going to court.
“We did not want to put ourselves through this,” she said, adding “it shows that love wins and I am really happy that the right result was received today.”