Caribbean News

Court of Appeal halts same-sex marriages

The Court of Appeal Wednesday upheld a government application to block a ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie on same sex marriage in the British Overseas Territory.

The ruling by Appeal Court President Sir John Goldring and Justices of Appeal, Sir Richard Field and C. Dennis Morrison effectively halted the planned marriage later on Wednesday of same-sex couple Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden-Bush.
The Appeal Court ruling also prevented the judgement of the Chief Justice from taken effect until the government’s appeal of his judgement is completed.

The appeal will be heard in August.

In his ruling on March 29,, 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.

Last week, attorney Ben Tonner, who represented Day and 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”.

But Premier Alden McLoughlin told the Legislative Council that it was critical that the country has the benefit of clarification on these very important constitutional issues.

The Court of Appeal Tuesday heard arguments from the Attorney General’s Chambers and Toner with Acting Solicitor General Reshma Sharma telling the three-member Appeal Court that the government believes the Chief Justice in his ruling answered the wrong question in deeming section 14 as discriminatory.

She also argued that changing the law from the bench was an overstep of the Court’s modification powers.

The government also contended that and it would be unjust and inconvenient to allow his ruling to stand until the serious questions of law were settled.

In his lengthy statement to the Parliament, Premier McLoughlin reiterated earlier statements that he had no doubt that the feelings of the majority of Caymanians are that marriage should retain its traditional and religious definition and meaning, the union of one man and one woman.

CMC

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