Cayman Islands: Chief justice legalises gay marriage

In an historic landmark ruling for the Cayman Islands, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has legalised same-sex marriage. In his judgment delivered on Friday in the human rights case filed by Chantelle Day and Vicky Bodden, who had been refused a marriage licence because they are a same-sex couple, the country’s senior judge found in their favour for all of their claims and made the decision not to allow “the violation of the petitioners’ rights to continue”, and for the “indignities” that they and their daughter have been subjected to be “put to an immediate end”. He therefore ordered the modification of the law, instantly legalising gay marriage in Cayman.

Chief Justice Smellie found that in refusing them a marriage licence the government had breached several of their human rights, including the right to a private family life and freedom of expression, and that it had discriminated against them on the basis of their sexual orientation, also violating the women’s rights as enshrined in the Cayman Islands Constitution.

The chief justice outlined in his ruling that no justification had been established by the government in its response to the petition to sustain what he said was the “severe form of discrimination”.

He said the while it was perhaps an unintended consequence the 2008 amendment to the marriage law with the religious aim of maintaining marriage as the exclusive privilege of heterosexuals, the effect had been to “impose indignity, inequality of treatment and inequality of legal status upon same-sex couples”.

He also made it clear that many inequities have existed in the name of tradition but neither tradition nor religion could form the “rational basis for a law”, and he pointed out that marriage is a secular institution. Read more via Cayman News Service