Lesbian couple is the first to get legal recognition in Cayman

A lesbian couple is the first to have their union recognised in Cayman under the Civil Partnership Law which came into effect in September 2020.

Samantha Louise Erksine and Alice Hillman Lopez, who tied the knot three years earlier in the United Kingdom, said having their union recognised in the extremely conservative small-island nation is a dream come true.

The couple further told a local publication that, not only were they happy to be recognised, they were grateful to those who came before, namely the same-sex couple Chantelle Day and Vickie Bush, who helped to push the legislation in a favourable direction for the LGBTQ community.

The Erksine Lopez pair on Thursday received their official certificate from one of the registrars of civil unions, Joy Basdeo.

The issue of recognition for same-sex unions in Cayman has a contentious history, having been approved and later struck down once before.

Landmark ruling

The country’s Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, in a 2019 landmark ruling, made same-sex marriage legal.

However, less than a month later, the government launched an appeal against the ruling.

“I and my entire government have great respect for the chief justice and indeed the independence of the judiciary. But even the best judges get it wrong from time to time. Hard cases make bad law. None of us who are human are infallible,” said the country’s premier, Alden McLoughlin at the time of the appeal.

The ruling was later struck down.

The Civil Partnership Law was in 2020 also voted down in Cayman’s Legislate Assembly (LA) with member and Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly mounting strong opposition to the bill.

However, based on Cayman’s political structure, Cayman’s Governor, Martyn Roper, was able to enact the legislation.