Tuesday was a big day for such a small island. After Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood struck down a gay marriage ban on Friday, gay couples in Guam started applying for marriage licenses Tuesday morning. But there's one couple who's been instrumental in Guam's landmark gay marriage decision: Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero. After being denied a marriage license based on Guam's previous marriage law, Pangelinan and Aguero successfully sued to have the law overturned, making Guam the first U.S. territory to recognize gay marriage.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services in Hagatna, Guam, was a joyous place on Tuesday morning, as same-sex couples lined up to apply for marriage licenses after years of waiting. Nikki Dismuke and Deasia Johnson, who were first in line waiting for the agency to open at 8 a.m., drew the No. 1 slot to apply for a license, but out of respect, they gave their spot to Pangelinan and Aguero. However, they didn't waste anytime in marrying and tied the knot right then and there, becoming the first gay couple on the island to wed. Public Health Director James Gillan officiated the ceremony while Pangelinan and Aguero served as witnesses. Besides their role in Dismuke and Johnson's nuptials, Pangelinan, 28, and Aguero, 29, played a crucial role for all gay couples in Guam.
In April, after being denied a license based on Guam's existing law that limited marriage to between opposite-sex couples, the couple sued the governor and Office of Vital Statistics registrar to overturn the law.
Pangelinan and Aguero based their lawsuit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to strike down gay marriage bans in the western U.S. — Guam falls under the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court. The day after they filed their suit, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson instructed officials to immediately start preparing marriage license applications for same-sex couples, despite the opposition of Gov. Eddie Calvo, who has since come around on the decision.
And on Friday, Judge Tydingco-Gatewood cleared the way for gay couples to wed.
Aguero said in a statement:
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.
According to Deseret News, the couple are planning a big wedding with friends and family scheduled for July 4.