A court in Guam has confirmed the legality of same-sex marriage, making it the first US territory to allow such unions. Same-sex couples in Guam can begin applying for marriage licenses next week.
In Friday's ruling, US District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood said the territory's longtime ban on same-sex marriages violated a gay couple's consitutional right to equal protection under the law.
He handed down an order that from Tuesday, June 9, same-sex couples could begin submitting applications for marriage licenses to the relevant authorities.
Although Guam's attorney-general said in April that the territory's ban on gay marriage had been overturned, Governor Eddie Calvo, who has long opposed same-sex marriage, said at the time that some legal issues needed clarifying before applications were processed.
After Friday's decision, however, Calvo called for unity on the issue.
"Now that the court has ruled and the law has changed, let us move forward," he said in a statement.
The ruling came after two 28-year-old women in a long-term relationship, Loretta M. Pangelinan (L. in photo) and Kathleen M. Aguero sued in April after being denied a marriage license on the grounds that Guam allowed matrimony only between a man and a woman.
In a news release after the ruling was handed down, Aguero said: "We are delighted with the news. Actually we've been waiting for nearly eight years to marry. We're so happy that the time has finally come."
Their lawyer, R. Todd Thompson, said the couple planned to marry June 20.
Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron was less happy with the decision, however, saying in a statement that the change in the law was "not only a defeat for Christian principles, but a defeat for our island and the whole of humanity."
Currently, gay couples in the US can marry in over 30 states, the District of Columbia and, now, Guam.
tj/kms (AP, Reuters)