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Coming Soon to Guam: Gay Marriage?

Could become the first US territory to legalize same-sex marriage
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2015 11:29 AM CDT
Coming Soon to Guam: Gay Marriage?
Loretta Pangelinan, left, and Kathleen Aguero, right, both 28, pose prior to applying for a marriage license in Guam in this April 8, 2015, file photo.   (AP Photo/Grace O. Garces Bordallo, File)

Guam may become the first US territory to allow same-sex marriage after its attorney general today ordered it to be so. Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson instructed officials to start processing same-sex marriage applications, citing an appeals court decision that found state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional, the AP reports. The move came two days after same-sex couple Kathleen Aguero and Loretta Pangelinan filed a legal challenge to Guam's marriage laws after they were unable to submit a marriage application, the Los Angeles Times reports. However, applications won't be accepted "until further notice," the acting director of Guam's Department of Public Health and Social Services told the Pacific Daily News after the directive was issued. "From my side, I just received a letter. It's not a legal opinion."

Gov. Eddie Calvo then released a statement announcing that his administration will defer a decision on the issue, though the department in charge of marriage applications earlier hoped a decision would be made by Friday. "If it is the will of the people of Guam to make same-sex marriage legal on Guam, then the Guam Legislature, the people of Guam's representatives, can take action to change the law, or a referendum can be held giving the people of Guam a direct voice in this issue," Calvo and Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio said in the statement. Barrett-Anderson's office said, in its original directive, "The ultimate decision on whether Guam's statute is constitutional will be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in June. The Supreme Court's decision, however, to lift the stay in the [US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals] decision permits individuals in all nine states [covered by the circuit court] and Guam to the enjoyment of their right to marry regardless of gender." (More Guam stories.)

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