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Opinions & Editorial 02 Sep, 2020 Follow News

HE Governor Martyn Roper

After an intensive round of media appearances and a series of meetings on the controversial Domestic Partnership Bill, HE Governor Martyn Roper was due to assent to what was expected to be known as the Civil Partnership Law this weekend.

His virtual and in-person shuttle diplomacy round of consultations locally, and with his bosses at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office might have smoothed some feathers, but others remain ruffled.

While the over-arching issue surrounding the legalisation of same-sex relationships in Cayman - including same-sex marriage - has been a long-running saga, the debate focused on Domestic Partnerships (or Civil Partnerships) has been short and intense.

The Governor’s assent - itself shrouded in controversy - might to a degree close a chapter on this tussle over human rights, the constitution, societal morals, culture - and what constitutes acceptable forms of public displays of affection in Cayman.

It could also be the start of a new discussion about social transformation, adaptability, acceptance and tolerance.

What is certain is that views are deeply entrenched and are not likely to change overnight…or to be more practical, over the days to come.

This debate over civil/domestic partnerships has thrown wide open a broader examination of the sweeping array of legislation impacted by this new law, the powers ascribed to the holder of the post of Governor, as well as issues of culture in Cayman’s multi-cultural cosmopolitan community.

It has been stressed that the new civil partnerships law is not limited to same-sex partners in that it is accessible to heterosexual couples as well who might not be keen on having their relationship - and crucially any agreed or legally-defined obligations to each other - cemented under the banner of a formal religious ceremony.

Clergy are not required to officiate over the exchange of vows and the existing Marriage Law, rooted in Christian principles, remains intact and untouched.

A related issue over the recognition of same-sex marriage in Cayman, from which the domestic/civil partnership issue in Cayman is derived, is due for hearing by the Privy Council.

There is a point of view that whichever way the Privy Council rules will impact the law now coming into force.

With an election also in the offing, we accept that the debate may very well simmer for some time yet. The hope is that it has already reached its boiling point and has not boiled over. Cayman knows how to keep a lid on things.

One thing is certain; this issue is historical and its implications are far-reaching.

Like all ‘partnerships’ a happy medium must be found to co-exist, and we are convinced that in this case, in Cayman it already exists.

Possibly amongst the most profound comments heard during the passionate debates triggered by this issue, were those by persons ‘who knew people who are gay and never had a problem with them anyway’.

Perhaps the ‘happy medium’ has been there all along.

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