Guam's attorney general told officials Wednesday to "immediately" begin processing marriage license applications from same-sex couples. The unprecedented step could make Guam the first U.S. territory to allow gay marriages. But the government agency that issues marriage licenses said it would not accept applications from same-sex couples "until further notice," according to Pacific Daily News.
Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson issued a memo informing Guam's department of public health and social services to begin reviewing same-sex marriage applications after a circuit appeals court found that state bans on marriages between two people of the same gender were unconstitutional. The Oct. 7, 2014, decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose coverage includes Guam, made it impossible for the island to enforce its marriage law, which had banned same-sex marriages, Barrett-Anderson said.
The Department is advised to treat all same gender marriage applicants with dignity and equality under the Constitution of our nation, and the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The news comes days after two women, Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero, filed a suit in District Court that claimed their constitutional rights were violated after the public health department rejected their marriage application last week. Both women are 28 years old and have been together for more than nine years, according to the Associated Press. An attorney for the couple issued the following statement:
Obviously I’m encouraged by what I’ve heard but I’m cautious (whether public health) will actually comply with the attorney general’s direction.
Leo Casil, acting director of the territory's public health department, told Pacific Daily News he would wait for Gov. Eddie Calvo to determine whether the applications should be processed. The governor is listed as a defendant in Pangelinan and Aguero's suit. At a press conference, Barrett-Anderson said she told the governor the lawsuit was "indefensible." A decision would be made within two days, Casil said.
From my side, I just received a letter. It's not a legal opinion. It's a letter urging to issue the marriage licenses from the attorney general.