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Guam same-sex couple to sue for right to marry

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United States Court of Appeals Ninth CircuitA same-sex couple in Guam has been denied a marriage license, and they plan to sue in federal district court:

Guam on Wednesday rejected a marriage license application from the first-same sex couple to apply for the document in the U.S. territory.

A Department of Public Health and Social Services clerk refused to accept an application filed by Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero.

“It doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic, but the law is going to prevent me from issuing a marriage license,” department director James Gillan said.

Under Guam law, a marriage license is only issued to a couple of the opposite sex, he said.

Guam falls within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has already decided the issue of same-sex marriage. They ruled in Latta v. Otter that state bans are unconstitutional. Since the district court in Guam is bound by that decision, it’s unlikely they would come out with a different result.


  • 1. wes228  |  April 8, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Awesome! They are under the 9th Circuit, so let's hope this gets done quickly.

  • 2. F_Young  |  April 8, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Off-topic: Another Step Toward Equality for LGBT Workers

    Today, President Obama’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination goes into effect. It prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will now receive new legal protections designed to ensure they are judged by the quality of their work, not who they are or whom they love.

  • 3. davepCA  |  April 8, 2015 at 9:36 am


  • 4. Fortguy  |  April 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Guam does have its own district court.

  • 5. Mike_Baltimore  |  April 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    The Guam court is under the 9CA. 9CA has already decided the issue of same-sex marriage. They ruled in Latta v. Otter that state bans are unconstitutional. Since the district court in Guam is bound by that decision, it’s unlikely they would come out with a different result.

    And 'state bans' also means territorial bans.

  • 6. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  April 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    I can hardly wait! I hope they file for summary judgment.

  • 7. ianbirmingham  |  April 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Reuters – Blackmail and abuse: Gay sex ban in India stirs violence

    One case study in a report by the Coalition for Sex Workers and Sexuality Minority Rights documented a doctor duped into a relationship with two men who filmed him having sex and extorted 1.3 million rupees ($20,775) from him. The police were tipped off about extortion – but charged the victim.

    In another incident, a woman who suspected her husband was having an affair installed a webcam in their bedroom and discovered he was sleeping with men. She took the footage to police who arrested her husband.

    Charities like the Humsafar Trust say reports of abuse have almost trebled in the last year, with Giani documenting 500 reports of abuse of LGBT people in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in 2014. …

    India has a rich history of eunuchs and male-to-female transgender people known as "hijras" who were respected and considered close confidants of emperors in the Mughal empire.

    But British colonisers in 1860 introduced Section 377 to legislation that prohibited "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" which was widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex.

    Over the years, the country's sexual minorities – especially transgender people who are more visible – have been driven to the fringes of society, into sex work, and face discrimination in jobs and basic services such as health and education.

    In 2009, however, the Delhi High Court ruled Section 377 violated constitutional guarantees for equality, privacy and freedom of expression, ending the ban on same sex relationships.

    Sachin Awasthy, advocacy officer for Pehchan, a group which provides healthcare to sexual minorities, said this watershed moment for the LGBT rights movement led to a new openness.

    Annual gay pride marches emerged in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), newspapers and TV stations increased coverage of LGBT issues, and India's usually formulaic film industry introduced the issue of homosexuality.

    "There was more coverage of the issue in the media, in schools and colleges. People started talking about their sexuality and coming out," said Awasthy.

    So it came as a shock to human rights groups when the Supreme Court recriminalised gay sex 15 months ago, saying only India's parliament could decide on Section 377.

    "The ruling has turned the clock back," said Amitava Sarkar, a transgender and activist from the India's HIV/AIDS Alliance.

    "Britain, the country that imposed the law in India, has moved on and now permits same sex marriage, yet we in India are still living with this archaic law." …

    Activists say LGBT people do not hold out hope that the country's right-wing government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will change the law in parliament. Last month India was among 43 countries in the United Nations to vote unsuccessfully to stop benefits to same-sex partners of U.N. staff. …

  • 8. Fortguy  |  April 8, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    My post was not intended to question 9th Circuit precedence, but merely to note that Guam has a federal territorial court and provide the court's website. American Samoa, for instance, does not have its own court and federal matters there must be adjudicated in Hawaii at the closest–a costly inconvenience to sue for marriage equality regardless of appeals precedent.

  • 9. RnL2008  |  April 8, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Hey folks, here's some crappy tactics by Texas lawmakers:

    This is what Lamda Legal posted on my facebook today.

  • 10. Mike_Baltimore  |  April 9, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    And to announce (proudly or unintentionally?) that you had not read the article posted by Scottie?

    I quoted directly from the article, so if you have a problem, it is with Scottie, not what I posted.

  • 11. VIRick  |  April 9, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    "Guam has a federal territorial court and provide the court's website. American Samoa, for instance, does not have its own court and federal matters there must be adjudicated in Hawaii at the closest …. "

    Fortguy, you're absolutely correct on every count. Thank you for providing the additional information.

    And like Guam (and Puerto Rico), we too have a federal district court in the Virgin Islands. In addition, there also is the most recently-created federal district court:

    "The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, a federal territorial court whose jurisdiction comprises the United States-affiliated Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands." Like Guam, its appeals go to the 9th Circuit Court.

    Matters of US federal law arising in American Samoa have generally been adjudicated in the US District Court for the District of Hawaii or in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Thus, American Samoa is the only remaining US territory without its own federal district court.

  • 12. gay_avenger  |  April 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Mike, must you always nitpick?

  • 13. Christian0811  |  April 9, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Didn't they petition for the full court to hear the case about Sec 377??

  • 14. VIRick  |  April 9, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    "…. nitpick …."

    Is that what it is? I was thinking of a much stronger phrase, but then, simply chose to ignore the "whatever-it's-called." Substantively speaking,

    "Guam does have its own district court."

    And so do we. Despite being located on opposite sides of the globe, Guam and the Virgin Islands share a peculiarly similar system of governance, a point which has quite a bit to do with the time-frame of US acquisition, coupled with a comparable population size,– and a lot of congressional inertia.

  • 15. Mike_Baltimore  |  April 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    In my opinion, I don't nitpick, but try to give examples of FACTS.

    Nitpick is defined as "to be excessively concerned with or critical of inconsequential details"

    Maybe you and/or others consider the Guam District Court to not be under the 9CA, but I do, because in actuality, it is, as acknowledged by the 9CA.
    (… )

  • 16. Mike_Baltimore  |  April 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    And just like ALL US District courts, a case can be appealed to a Circuit Court of Appeals. Guam's cases go to the Ninth Court of Appeals, thus Guam is under the jurisdiction of the 9CA and the rulings of the 9CA.

    The truth is not ALWAYS the entirety of the truth. Guess why a court asks for the witness to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Isn't the 'whole truth' part of the oath redundant if the truth is always the whole truth?

    For instance, a person can tell the truth of going to college for four years, and another party ASSumes four years of college means graduating, except the first person did attend for four years, but did NOT graduate. The truth, but not the whole truth.

  • 17. VIRick  |  April 9, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Agreed,– completely. And here's another:

    "Mike, I really do like you. And that's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." <hugs> <kisses> <more hugs>

  • 18. VIRick  |  April 13, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    Same-Sex Couple on Guam Challenge Island’s Marriage Laws

    HAGATNA, Guam — A lesbian couple on Guam has filed a legal challenge to the territory’s marriage laws after they were barred from submitting a license to marry. Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero filed their lawsuit today, 13 April 2015, in US District Court.

    The women, both 28, say they have been together nine years and have three foster children. They launched their legal battle after a failed attempt to file an application for a marriage license earlier this month. Their complaint says they are challenging “the discriminatory denial of their freedom to marry in the Territory of Guam.”

    Guam Attorney-General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, predicting the US Supreme Court would soon decide the issue for the country, said last week that “upon that decision, Guam will abide.” Attorney Bill Pesch says his clients are hoping to get their case before a judge within a month.

    With respect to marriages from other jurisdictions, in a very gender-neutral manner, the statues say:

    "All marriages contracted outside of the territory of Guam, which would be valid by the laws of the country in which the same were contracted, are valid in the territory of Guam."

    Having carefully, noted this wording, Wikipedia very recently added Guam (along with Missouri and Alabama) as states recognizing same-sex marriages legally-performed in other jurisdictions.

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