Map of the Pacific Ocean with Guam
indicated by a star.
We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
"Marriage equality" means that laws permit both opposite-sex
couples to marry.
2015-JUN-10: A brief description of recent developments leading to the marriage equality in Guam:
Guam is one of the two U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean. It is officially described as an "Unincorporated Organized Territory." Guam is located north of New Guinea. east of the Philippines, and north of Australia. It is the largest and most southern of the Mariana Islands with a land area of 212 square miles. Guam's population was 159,358 in 2010.
About 85% of its residents identify as Roman Catholic. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is unalterably opposed to marriage equality. However a 2009 public opinion survey showed that Guamanians were almost evenly divided between those who favor having same-sex couples being able to marry, allowing only civil unions, or continuing to not recognize same-sex relaationships at all.
Within the federal court system, Guam is under the jurisdication of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, along with the states of Alaska, Hawaii, 7 mainland states, and the other U.S. territory in the Pacific -- the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
During 2014-OCT, the 9th Circuit issued a ruling in the Idaho same-sex marriage case Latta v. Otter. The court determined that state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Same-sex couples are now able to marry in all nine states under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. Only same-sex couples in the territories have been excluded from marrying.
A lesbian couple in Guam -- Kathleen M. Aguero (Kate), 28 and Loretta M. Pangelinan (Lo), 28 have been in a relationship for over nine years. They are active foster parents and currently have three children under their care. During 2015-APR, they applied for a marriage license and were refused.
On APR-13, they filed a lawsuit at federal District Court for Guam at Hagatna, Guam. Their case was based on two well established constitutional principles:
- That states and territories have the right and responsibility to define which couples are eligible to marry within their borders.
- Whatever criteria they establish, it must not violate the Due Process and/or Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. These clauses require Congress, state governments and local govenments to treat people -- and thus couples -- equally.
Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson (Independent) regarded the 9th Circuit Court decision as a precedence binding on Guam. She asked territory officials to start issuing license applications to qualified same-sex couples immediately. However, the office of Governor Eddie Baza Calvo (R) issued a statement saying that Guam's prohibition of such marriages should continue in force.
On 2015-JUN-05: the District Court issued its ruling, legalizing same-sex marriage in the Territory. The plaintiff couple was the first to obtain a marriage license. Same-sex couples are now marrying in Guam.
Yhe U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges on 2015-JUN-26. It involves same-sex marriages in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. The high court's decision legalize same-sex marriage uniformly across the District of Columbia, all 50 U.S. states and five U.S. territories.
Topics covered in this section:
Part 1: From 1950 to 2015: Events related to SSMs. Lesbian couple refused marriage license, and filed a lawsuit in Guam District Court.
Part 2: 2015-APR-15 to 19: Responses to the SSM lawsuit by
Territory officials, a human rights group, and the Roman Catholic Church.
Part 3: Additional events during 2015-APR.
Part 4: From late 2015-APR until JUN-04: SSM student debate held in in the
Northern Mariana Islands. Case scheduled in U.S. District Court, Guam.
Part 5: 2015-JUN: District Court ruling legalizes SSM. Reactions by government and church leaders. Same-sex couples marry in Guam.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
Kathleem Aguero & Loretta Pangelinan v. Eddie Baza Calvo & Carolyn Garrido, District Court of Guam, 2015-APR-13, at: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published: 2015-JUN-10
Last updated 2015-JUN-26
Author: Bruce A Robinson