Guam legalises same-sex marriage
After an historic court ruling, Guam has become the first US territory to legalise same sex marriage.
Guam has become the first US territory to legalise same sex marriage.
The District Court of Guam has ruled in favour of two women who launched legal action after being refused a marriage licence.
Despite the Attorney-General saying a licence should be issued the Governor opposed the move asking for a stay until a similar case is resolved by the US Supreme Court this month.
The couples' lawyer Todd Thompson told Koro Vaka'uta what happened.
TODD THOMPSON: This happened because our chief district judge here issued a ruling enjoining any laws on Guam that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. So that was issued, becomes effective on Tuesday and at that point our clients intend to go down and get their marriage licence. To our knowledge this is the only US jurisdiction in the Pacific where the issue has come up. In our case we had two clients who wanted to go down to marry and they were rejected so we filed a suit.
KORO VAKA'UTA: The Governor was opposing this and wanted more clarification initially, has there been any response from this office to this ruling or is this legally the end of the matter?
TT: During the oral argument in court, the Governor's lawyer indicated that he would comply with the court's order and would not appeal the order so we anticipate when our clients go down on Tuesday, they will be eligible for a marriage licence.
KV: Obviously your clients must be elated with this?
TT: Oh yes, they're delighted. They have been waiting for this for eight weeks but actually it's been more like eight years that they had wished to marry and they just didn't even try until about eight weeks ago and it's been a whirlwind since then. One of clients, Loretta, she was in tears of joy at the decision when the court handed down its ruling so we are all excited by it. Guam is likely going to be the last jurisdiction in America to have a court decision like this until the US Supreme Court rules in three weeks. We don't know what's going to happen. We are hopeful that the US Supreme Court will make marriage equality everywhere but at least Guam is proud today to say that we adopted marriage equality here on our own.
KV: In terms of that US Supreme Court ruling, will that have any impact on this ruling now?
TT: It's possible. Most people seem to think that the US Supreme Court will adopt marriage equality throughout the country however if they decide that it is a matter to be decided at the state then unfortunately that would mean that here on Guam the state law currently says that only opposite sex couples are eligible. That would still be in effect, however anyone who was married in the three weeks in the run up to the Supreme Court ruling would still be married.
KV: You mentioned that law that exists about only opposite sex couples, how is that still there versus this ruling?
TT: The Guam statutes are gender neutral as far as marriage goes but then there's one statute that was inserted 20 years ago which says the definition of marriage means opposite sex couples. There is only one little provision that talks about it. It's still on the books but the court basically issued an order saying that as of Tuesday that cannot be enforced. That law and any other laws that could be interpreted to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.
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