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Marriage Equality

Guam's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down by Federal Court

Guam's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down by Federal Court


Same-sex couples in the U.S. territory can begin marrying as early as Monday.


A federal court has struck down Guam's ban on marriages between partners of the same sex.

The Pacific Daily News reports Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood issued the ruling Friday morning in the U.S. territory. It will go into effect Monday at 8 a.m. local time.

The lawsuit was filed in April by Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero, after the couple of 28 years was denied a marriage license by the Department of Health and Social Services. A bureaucrat told the partners that he sympathized with cause of equality, but had to follow Guamanian law.

"They want equality now, not later," the women's attorney, R. Todd Thompson, told the Associated Press at the time.

Attorneys for the couple argued that Guam falls under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared these bans unconstitutional in October 2014. All of the other states in the Ninth Circuit now have marriage equality.

Despite direction from Guam's attorney to stop defending the territory's marriage ban and issue marriage licenses in April, the defendants representing the state attempted to argue that a ruling would not be sensible, as a Supreme Court decision on the issue is close at hand.

Ultimately, the federal judge sided with the plaintiffs, who say they will wed as soon as possible.

The island of Guam is a U.S. territory and a strategic military asset in the Pacific Ocean, more than 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii. Because Guamanian law restricted marriage to opposite-sex couples, many same-sex couples from the island reportedly flew to Hawaii and even to continental states on the West Coast to get married. That could change starting Monday.

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