February 19, 2020

The Editor speaks: Cayman’s Premier acts under pressure


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Colin Wilson

After Cayman Islands Chief Justice, Anthony Smellie, last Friday (29 March) handed down his judgment that same-sex marriages would now be legal in the Cayman Islands, it made news all over the world.

I was not surprised at the Chief Justice making that decision, even if my personal views, favour the opposite.

Like all of us we have our own views, and even the Chief Justice has one. However, he is in a different position. He has to go by the law and not his heart.

His decision MUST be respected.

Likewise, I was not surprised to learn that our Premier, Alden McLaughlin, has announced his government is going to appeal the Chief Justice’s decision. I don’t suppose the Chief Justice is surprised, either. McLaughlin was under extreme pressure to do and say something.

What has surprised me is the Premier saying “…even the best judges get it wrong from time to time. Hard cases make bad law. None of us who are human are infallible.”

It was totally unnecessary and it would have been better if he had said nothing. Yes, I know our Premier is a lawyer, and that makes it, in my opinion, even worse. Is he implying he is a better judge?

The cloying beginning of his sentence ..”I want to add here that I and my entire government have great respect for the Hon. Chief Justice and indeed the independence of the judiciary..” Then comes that small word – BUT.

I can sympathise with our Premier. He had to order the Attorney General to start an Appeal. He would have been crucified, and Easter is around the corner, if he hadn’t.

He is 100 per cent cottect when he said, “As Premier I will state what I have said many times before – I have 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. I recognise that many of the younger generation of Caymanians have differing views on this issue and it is quite likely that in years to come the majority view of Caymanians may change. But such a majority is not evident to any of us here today.”

I also I understand why he added, “However, I equally want to make it clear that no matter what my own religious beliefs, or indeed the beliefs of the other members of my Government or of this Parliament, as your Premier I also have an obligation under the law and the Constitution, and indeed given my religious upbringing under the teachings of Christ, to ensure that all people, but especially any minority group, regardless of differences, are treated fairly and with respect.”

I endorse his final paragraph:

“I implore those of us in this House and outside of it to discuss their views freely, but respectfully. At all times we should keep in mind that those in our community who are in same sex relationships, or have family members who they love in such relationships, are like us – made of flesh and blood with feelings and emotions and are not merely stone objects.”

If the premier was under pressure – what about the Chief Justice?

You can view the whole of his statement in the LA on our websire today under Breaking News at: https://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/statement-on-same-sex-marriage-ruling-by-cayman-islands-premier-hon-alden-mclaughlin-mbe-jp-mla-wednesday-3-april-2019/

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