Cayman Islands appeal court grants stay in same-sex marriage case

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GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) – Sir John Goldring said that it was “not without hesitation” that the court of appeal granted the government a stay on the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands Wednesday, blocking the impending first gay wedding ever be held in the country. The president of the appeal court said that they could not say there was no argument to be made against Chief Justice Anthony Smellie’s “full and fair consideration” of the case.

The court accepted that there would be prejudice to the women involved but focused on the government’s position that dozens of pieces of legislation would have to be re-drafted to meet the ruling by the chief justice, causing “legal uncertainty” until the appeal is settled.

The president said that the court did not accept that to grant a stay the government had to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success, merely that there is something to argue. The appeal judges also seemed to give considerable weight to an affidavit filed by a government official that numerous pieces of legislation would now need to be amended.

The court said that if the couple married now before the issue surrounding the marriage law was settled, it could result in anomalies regarding any same-sex couple’s legal position concerning the laws that would now need to be amended. However, the court observed that legislators seemed to have made no provision at all for the possibility that they would lose at trial.

By granting a stay, the appeal court has given hope to government and fuelled the justification for the use of public funds for the case, despite the wide legal opinion in Cayman that the appeal is doomed to failure. However, the court also refused to consider the government’s application for costs, deferring that until after the appeal itself is heard. The court confirmed that it would hear the actual appeal at its next sitting in Cayman, which is scheduled for 19 August to 6 September.

While there was a considerable disappointment for Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden, who were due to marry Wednesday evening when the court rose a small number of people in the gallery began loudly praising God and had to be silenced by the court marshal.

Dr Leo Raznovich, a leading activist for the LGBT community, said he felt that the appeal court’s decision to deliver the ruling granting the stay a full day after arguments were made was “cruel” and questioned whether the recent political backlash had played in part in granting it, given that the government’s grounds for appeal, which the court appeared to decide was less relevant than the issue of the potential legislative uncertainty.

Nevertheless, the decision is merely a stay and has no bearing on whether or not the actual appeal will be successful.

Education minister Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who had urged the community to disrupt the couple’s wedding if it went ahead, was also in attendance at the court for the decision, alongside Savannah MLA Anthony Eden, whose recent contribution to the debate on same-sex marriage, demonstrated that his long-standing vitriolic opposition to homosexuality has not abated in any way.

Republished with permission of Cayman News Service

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