Liberate met the Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, and Senators Andrew Green and Paul Routier, this morning. The Chief Minister started by reiterating his apology to the LGBT+ community for the delay in getting the legislation ready in time for it to be law by 1 January 2018. The delay was due to an under-estimation of the complexities involved in re-writing the marriage law and departmental problems that have now been resolved. He also reaffirmed his commitment to making equal marriage legal in Jersey.
We now have a tentative and cautious date of 31 March 2018 for same-sex marriage to be legal. The reason for the hesitation is because the part of the process that makes this primary piece of legislation law – Royal assent at Privy Council – is completely outside of the control of the States of Jersey.
The revised timetable is now: the draft of the law is due to be finished this week, it will be lodged in the States at the end of this month, it will be debated (and hopefully passed) by the States Chamber in mid-November, it will be sent to Privy Council in December for Royal assent, and this is the unknown bit – at the moment Privy Council are passing legislation from the Island quickly, but it could take up to 3 months to come back from Privy Council in the UK and become law over here – which takes us to the end of March 2018.
Having said this, it could come back as quickly as January 2018. The Chief Minister said that this could happen because of the UK government’s commitment to legislation that advances human and equal rights, but it is outside of his control to influence this.
Some of the changes to law that had been planned to come in at the same time as the new legislation will now be staged and brought in separately later, in order that the main change can be passed as soon as possible.
Disappointing though the delay is, Liberate is satisfied that Senator Gorst is sincere is his desire to see this legislation pass and will be doing all he can to make it pass as quickly as possible now.
It will be a relief to those waiting to marry next year to know that a summer wedding is still a possibility.