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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in the U.S. Territory of Guam

Part 2 of 5:
2015-APR-15 to 19
: Responses to the SSM lawsuit
by Territory officials, a human rights group, and
the Roman Catholic Church

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This topic is a continuation of the previous essay

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Satellite picture of Guam

Satellite view of Guam

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wedding rings 2015-APR-15: Events:

Motivated by the desire to avoid the legal costs of a lawsuit in federal court, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson (Independent) issued instructions to territory officials to process same-sex marriage license applications immediately. She wrote:

"While the (Public Health) Department was acting in accordance with Guam law, the Ninth Circuit's recent decision has rendered Guam's marriage statute legally unenforceable until such time that the Supreme Court of the United States alters the holding of the Ninth [U.S.] Circuit [Court] of Appeals." 1

She wrote that the Department of Public Health and Social Services should treat:

"... all same gender marriage applicants with dignity and equality under the Constitution." 2

However, the office of Governor Eddie Baza Calvo (R) issued a statement saying:

"Guam law, as currently written, prescribes marriage as between a man and a woman. Given this information, unless the law is changed by the Legislature, or unless a judicial edict is issued declaring the Guam law to be inorganic or unconstitutional, he believes the Department of Public Health should continue to enforce the law as written. ..." 3

“While this current legal issue is being reviewed, 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." 2

Leo Casil, the acting director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services, said that officials will not be accepting license applications "... until further notice." 2

Todd Thompson, the plaintiffs' attorney, said:

"Obviously I’m encouraged by what I’ve heard, but I’m cautious [whether the health department] will actually comply with the attorney general’s direction." 2

He told KUAM, a local NBC station:

"We're seeking marriage equality for all. We are asking the judge to obey the 9th Circuit precedent, which says that sex is not an appropriate distinction to make when filing for a marriage license." 3

The New York Post published an article with the premature title: "Guam is first US territory to allow gay marriage." 4

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2015-APR-16: Senator Barns and the Human Rights Campaign issued separate statements on same-sex marriage:

Guam Senator Barns (D) wrote that the Territory has a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender. She said:

"This is the law that exists today. Denying a couple a marriage license because they are both one gender to me means that one or both of them is being denied equal rights because of their gender."

James Perez Servino, an associate director of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization on the U.S. mainland that promotes marriage equality, issued a statement stating that Governor Calvo is:

"... standing in the way of marriage equality." 5

He urged people who agreed to write letters to the Governor.

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2015-APR-19: Events during the week:

  • GovGuam Speaker Judith Won Pat (D) and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz (D) have publicly supported same-sex marriage.

  • Senator Tina Muna-Barnes (D) has said that she "accepts" it.

  • Senator Nerissa Underwood (D) said also supports marriage equality. She suggested that the people of Guam who support same-sex marriage write to Governor Calvo indicating their position.

  • Senator Michael San Nicolas (D) also supports marriage equality for Guam. On APR-22, he said that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

    "... which is the court of jurisdiction that Guam falls under, has already made a ruling that same-sex marriages cannot be discriminated against and the Attorney-General on Guam has already issued a recommendation to the agency informing them that same sex marriage cannot be discriminated against and they need to process the application for a marriage licence." 6

  • The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Agana has jurisdiction over Catholics in Guam. On APR-22, the Archdiocese issued a statement in opposition to marriage equality. Some of the points raised were:

    • Church leaders asked politicians to:

      "... end this assault on the very foundation of our traditional, cultural and religious patrimony."

    • The Archdiocese wrote that same-sex marriages are:

      "... unconstitutional ... morally unacceptable ... a threat to the very definition of marriage."

      "Any type of government, whether it is democratic, or monarchial, has always ‘discriminated’ — i.e., made distinctions — in their marriage laws. And in that sense, there is no ‘equality’ issue in marriage law."

      "[Marriage laws] ... have served the common good to protect the marriage as a union of one man and one woman."

      Marriage is a restricted to a union of one man and one women, Being a "natural institution" it cannot be redefined or reinterpreted [by the government].

      "The concept and idea that same sex unions can be defined as a ‘marriage’ has no basis in reality. Marriage is an institution of comprehensive self-giving between one man and one woman who share bodily complementarity. This lifeigiving union which ^may form a family is the very foundation of our civilization whose very source and center is God. 7

    Some years ago, this web site conducted a pilot study to determine if individuals can assess the will of God through prayer. By coincidence, we chose the topic of same-sex marriage for our study. We found that people do not seem to be able to assess the will of God in this way.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Cameron Miculka and Amanda Francel Blas, "Guam AG directs same-sex marriage licenses be issued," USA Today, 2015-APR-15, at:
  2. "Guam slated to be first U.S. territory to allow same-sex marriage." CBS News, 2015-APR-15, at:
  3. Alex Johnson, "Guam Couple Seek to Overturn Ban on Same-Sex Marriage," NBC News, at:
  4. "Guam is first US territory to allow gay marriage, New York Post, 2015-APR-15, at:
  5. LGBT-rights group urges Guam governor to allow gay marriage"," Chicago Tribune, 2015-APR-16, at:
  6. "Guam senator says same-sex marriage is legal," Radio New Zealand International, 2015-APR-22, at:
  7. Jasmine Stole, "Guam Archbishop: Don’t redefine marriage," Marianas Variety, 2015-APR-22, at:

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Copyright 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-APR-26
Last updated 2015-MAY-10
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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