It feels strange to be blogging about marriage equality given the pending Supreme Court decision in the Obergefell v Hodges case, but history was made once again just yesterday. Guam became the first US territory to recognize marriage equality when US District Court Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood (appointed by George W Bush) struck down the territory’s ban on same-sex marriage on Friday.
The ruling is stayed until this coming Monday when Judge Tydingco-Gatewood will release her official written opinion. Guam residents Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero filed the lawsuit in April after the 28-year-old women were denied a marriage license, attorneys for the plaintiffs based the lawsuit on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year. The U.S. District Court of Guam falls under the 9th Circuit.
According to Judge Tydingco-Gatewood,
Guam’s marriage laws are unconstitutional because they violate the plaintiffs’ rights under the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution. Accordingly, the court shall permanently enjoin the territory of Guam and its officers…from enforcing…any laws or regulations to the extent they prohibit otherwise qualified same-sex couples from marrying in Guam.
Last May, Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson wrote that she would respect a ruling to strike down the territory’s marriage ban. Barrett-Anderson appointed an attorney to represent the government of Guam and Governor Eddie Calvo because the two disagreed; she was in favor of issuing licenses while Calvo felt the law was “being challenged by federal judges that were nominated by a U.S. President and confirmed by a U.S Senate, none of whom were elected through a process that included the people of Guam.”