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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 5 of 5:
2015-JUN: District Court ruling legalizes SSM
.
Reactions by government and church leaders.
Same-sex couples marry in Guam.

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This topic is a continuation of the previous essay

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wedding rings2015-JUN-05: U.S. District Court for Guam issues ruling in the same-sex marriage case Aguero v. Calvo:

The defendants in the case -- the Governor of Guam and the registrar of the Office of Vital Statistics -- noted during the hearing that it was not practical to legalize same-sex marriage in the territory when a ruling is expected within a few weeks from the U.S. Supreme Court that might effect the entire country, including all five territories.

If the District Court rules in favor of marriage equality, there would likely be a surge of marriages among the approximately 5,000 adult lesbians and gays, and 5,000 adult bisexuals in Guam. The ruling by the Supreme Court in the case Obergefell v. Hodges is expected with a few weeks. If the latter ruling were to uphold the right of states and territories to ban same-sex marriage, then the Territory would be faced with many same-sex married couples whose recent marriages would be of unknown legality.

However, the plaintiffs' lawyers made a more convincing case that a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals during 2014-OCT is binding on Guam. That court had declared same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho to be unconstitutional. When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept the states' appeals, marriage equality was attained in the remaining states under the 9th Circuit Court's jurisdiction that still did not allow same-sex couples to marry. Within days of the High Court's refusal, all of the states under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit which had banned SSM were marrying same-sex couples. Couples were routinely marrying in Alaska. Arizona. California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood declared that marriage equality is the law of the territory. Her decision becomes effective on Monday JUN-08.

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Reactions by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Guam:

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Guam, Anthony Sablan Apuron, said that the court decision brought him:

"... tremendous sadness. [It is] ... a defeat ... [not only] for Christian principles [but also] for our island and the whole of humanity. The recognition of a same-sex union, as marriage, destroys the basic fabric of society, and will destroy human beings in the process. ... Marriage is and will always be a union between two persons of the opposite sex. ... Guam has the right to regulate the civil effect of the marriage contract. However, it does not have the right to define marriage itself. Why? Because marriage and family, which are the basis of any society is pre-political, and marriage existed before our government -- before Guam existed. ... [This] is the first step in collapsing the vital distinction between the state and society."This is the road to a totalitarian system. Why? Because now we will see that the state -- the government -- will require and demand that the church accept its redefinition of marriage, by way of anti-discrimination laws." 5

He believes that same-sex marriage will harm:

"... our children. Family laws have always searched for the good of the children; the question was always what is the best for the children. ..."

" The battle is not over; there is not yet the definitive word. For me, many words will still be said about this issue. This is still a controversial and complicated issue for our contemporary culture."

The population of Guam is 160,000, of whom about 85% are Roman Catholic.

Webmaster's opinion: [bias alert]:

I personally feel that Archbishop Apuron need not be concerned about any government demands to marry same-sex couples. Pastors, ministers and priests have been refusing to marry couples for centuries because they were interracial, or of the wrong skin color, or of the wrong denomination, or the wrong religion, or simply because the officiant felt that the couple was too immature to handle marriage. The Catholic Church has also refused to marry a couple in which one partner was divorced -- unless the former marriage had been officially annulled by the Church.

To our knowledge, no member of the clergy in the U.S. has ever been charged for refusing to marry a couple. Clergy are protected absolutely by the wall of separation between church and state enforced by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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2015-JUN-09: Same-sex couples are married in Guam:

A same-sex couple, Nikki Dismuke and Deasia Johnson, were at the head of the line when the Department of Public Health and Social Services office opened in Hagåtña, Guam on Tuesday morning. However, they stepped aside to allow the couple who were fourth in line -- plaintiffs Kathleen M. Aguero and Loretta M. Pangelinan -- to have the honor of receiving the first-ever same-sex wedding license in Guam. They plan to be married on JUL-04 in front of friends and family.

Later, Kathleen and Loretta were the witnesses when Nikki and Deasia became the first same-sex couple to be married in Guam. Apparently, the normal five day waiting interval had been waived.

Public Health Director James Gillan married the couple in a ceremony that lasted less than a minute. He said:

"It's my privilege to officiate at this. Do you take each other to share your lives, to promise to take good care of one another for as long as you live?"

Deasia Johnson of Killeen, TX replied "I do."

Nikki Dismuke of New Orleans, LA replied "I do."

Gillan concluded by saying:

"By the power vested in me by the laws of Guam, I pronounce you married."

The brides kissed.

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No further developments are expected in Guam,
other than many same-sex couples happily marrying.

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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. Raquel C. Bagnol, "8 schools to participate in AG’s Cup; topic this year is same-sex marri, Marianas Variety, 2015-APR-28, at: http://www.mvariety.com/
  2. "Guam Same-Sex Marriage Case to Proceed This Month," ABC News, 2015-MAY-08, at: http://abcnews.go.com/
  3. "Guam Gay Marriage Case Won't Wait For US High Court Ruling," Pride Source, 2015-MAY-14, at: http://www.pridesource.com/
  4. Cameron I. Miculka, "Court strikes down Guam's same-sex marriage ban," USA Today, 2015-JUN-04, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  5. "Ruling makes Guam first US territory to legalize same-sex marriage," National Catholic Reporter, 2015-JUN-09, at: http://ncronline.org/
  6. Rick Cruz, "First same-sex couple marries in Guam," USA Today, 2015-JUN-08, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  7. Grace Garces Bordallo, "First gay couple to marry in a US territory exchanges vows in Guam ceremony," Times Colonist, 2015-JUN-08, at: http://www.timescolonist.com/

Site navigation:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > Guam > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality> Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu> Guam > here

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2015-APR-26
Last updated 2015-JUN-11
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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