US district court chief judge Frances M Tydingco-Gatewood issued the decision after a hearing on Friday morning local time. It was scheduled to go into effect at 8am on Tuesday, when gay couples will be able begin applying for marriage licenses, the Pacific Daily News reported.
Attorneys representing the government of Guam said in an 18 May court document that “should a court strike current Guam law, they would respect and follow such a decision”.’
Lesbians Start “The Ball Rolling”
Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero filed the lawsuit in April after the 28-year-old women were denied a marriage license. They based their lawsuit on a ninth US circuit court of appeals decision last year in favour of same-sex marriage. The US district court of Guam falls under the 9th circuit.
Attorneys for the Guam plaintiffs had argued the territory must fall in line with the ninth circuit decision and accept marriage license applications unless the US supreme court rules otherwise. The supreme court is expected to rule this month whether gay marriage is a constitutional right. Currently, gay couples can marry in 36 states, the District of Columbia and now, Guam.
Eddie the Anti-Gay Marriage Guy
Governor Eddie Calvo, who has long opposed same-sex marriage in the largely Catholic country of only 165,000 people, admitted defeat and said it is time to ‘come together despite out differences of opinion.’
Lawyers for Eddie
Lawyers for Guam governor Eddie Calvo and the Office of Vital Statistics registrar said making a decision when a ruling from the high court was imminent was impractical.
Guam attorney general Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson appointed an attorney to represent Calvo because they did not agree on the lawsuit; she was in favour of issuing licenses.
Calvo has said the island’s same-sex marriage law is “being challenged by federal judges that were nominated by a US president and confirmed by a US Senate, none of whom were elected through a process that included the people of Guam”.
Guam residents are US citizens, but they do not have the right to cast ballots for president. The territory elects a delegate to the US House, but the delegate may not vote on legislation. Guam has no representation in the US Senate.’
As reported by the AFP, he said: ‘Now that the court has ruled and the law has changed, let us move forward.’
Same-sex couples wishing to get married will allowed to start applying for a marriage license from 9 June. There is a five day waiting period, meaning the first marriages will offically happen on 14 June, 2015
Wedding Bells for Loretta and Kathleen
This is a win for Loretta Pangelianan and Kathleen Aguero, two 28-year-olds who filed a lawsuit to get married.
Officials initially refused them a license as Guam’s marriage statute originally stated marriage could only take place between a ‘man and a woman’.
‘Love must win and we did,’ Aguero said.
A “First” of Hopefully “Many”
While 37 US states allow same-sex marriage, Guam is the first US federally controlled territory to allow gay couples to wed. In Puerto Rico, they are waiting for the US Supreme Court to make a decision later this June before they move forward. While there is growing support in the US Virgin Islands, there are currently no plans in American Samoa or the Northern Mariana Islands.