(CMR) The Court of Appeal’s three judge panel had decided to allow the Attorney General’s stay of execution request in the same sex marriage appeal case. This decision essentially puts the Chief Justice’s controversial March 29th decision on hold pending a full appeal hearing to be held in August.
The decision was rendered after the judges heard arguments yesterday from both the AG’s office and the lawyer’s of Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden-Bush. The deliberated overnight and delivered the decision after 3:00 pm today. Appeal judges were Appeal Court President the Honourable Sir John Goldring, Justices of Appeal Honourable Sir Richard Field and Honourable C. Dennis Morrison.
This ruling means that both sides will now gear up for the full appeal to be heard in during the summer sitting of the Court of Appeal in August.
The original petitioners were going to be holding a marriage ceremony yesterday but gave the judges an undertaking that they would not proceed with the ceremony until today’s decision was rendered by the court.
Cayman appears to be taking a similar path to Bermuda who also were granted stay of execution after it’s court made same-sex marriage legal in May 2017. But the socially conservative Progressive Labour Party was elected in July 2017 and pushed through a law eliminating same-sex unions and replacing them with domestic partnerships in November of that year. Rather than accept the ruling, the Bermudian government passed a fresh law that controversially re-banned same-sex weddings — only for the Supreme Court to strike down that law as well in June 2018.
As a British Overseas Territory, Bermuda creates its own laws, but all must be endorsed by the appointed British governor. The law change was debated in the UK Parliament and eventually ratified, taking effect in June 2018.
It’s been a back-and-forth issue since 2016 for the North Atlantic island of approximately 65,000 people. In June of that year, then-Premier Michael Dunkley, who supports same-sex marriage, called a non-binding referendum on the issue. The vote was deemed invalid because less than 50% of the electorate showed up, but of the 20,800 people who did, nearly 70% voted against same-sex marriage.
“[Same-sex marriage] visited Bermuda far too quickly,” he said. “The change came far too quickly for us to be able to absorb the change and all that it entails and so we have to move into that space where we are embracing of it … At some point, I’m hoping that we will, and I think that’s where we need to be.”
Then on November 23 2018 the Court of Appeal upheld the right to marry in the British Overseas Territory. In its ruling Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from the Bermudian government, finding that the fresh law was “passed for a mainly religious purpose,” and upheld the decision to strike it down.
They have since appealed the decision to the Privy Council – which has not decided if they will hear the matter.