The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, has today announced that same-sex marriage will not be in place in Jersey by the end of this year due to complexities in the proposed law.
As Liberate understands it, the law that is being drafted is an overhaul of marriage law in its entirety that will encompass same-sex marriage, but will also sort out some of the anachronisms in the current marriage law. It seems that the same-sex marriage part has been easy to accomplish, but the rest of the overhaul is causing the problems.
We have known about complexities surrounding Jersey’s lack of a human embryology act, which impacts marriage legislation, since March of this year and, at that time, we were told that it would be sorted out and a first draft of the new law would be available at the end of April. This did not happen and we have been chasing the Chief Minister’s Department for an update since May.
Today’s news is, therefore, not surprising, but it will be extremely disappointing for the LGBT+ community in Jersey ahead of tomorrow’s CI Pride celebrations.
We will be reminding the Chief Minister that the delay impacts people’s lives directly. As anyone who has arranged a wedding will know it takes about a year in the planning to ensure that venues, caterers, bands, marquees etc are booked. For those same-sex couples hoping to marry in spring or summer next year this is going to throw their plans into doubt and make it impossible for them to book anything with any certainty.
When we meet with the Chief Minister next we will be pushing for clarity over the timeline and a commitment that, if they cannot sort out the complexities of other parts of the marriage law, same-sex marriage will, at the very least, be enacted by a specific deadline.
As a community, we have been very patient and have waited for over two years for this legislation. We do feel that we have been pushed to the back of the queue whilst other matters have been given priority by the Chief Minister.
The proposal for equal marriage was lodged in the States Assembly in July 2015.