Federal Judge Invalidates Same-Sex Marriage in Puerto Rico
U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez Giménez ruled on Tuesday that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is not applicable to Puerto Rico because it is an unincorporated territory.
He issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed by civil rights activist Ada Conde and her wife seeking to have their marriage validated in Puerto Rico. Conde had filed her suit before the U.S. Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage as legally valid last year in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. Conde said the judicial decision effectively leaves all same-sex marriages in Puerto Rico in a legal limbo.
In his ruling, Pérez Giménez said that the U.S. Supreme Court or U.S. Congress must state explicitly that same-sex marriages can apply to Puerto Rico. The island’s Legislature also has the power to legalize same-sex marriages on its own; however, the governor does not have the same power, even though he may issue an executive order to such an effect.
Senate President Eduardo Bhatia said Perez Giménez’s determination is one of the greatest ironies of recent times. “It is unbelievable for the island’s federal court to ignore that the rights afforded in the U.S. Constitution are applicable to Puerto Rico,” he added.
Pedro Julio Serrano, an activist for the LGBTT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender) community, noted that same-sex marriage is a reality in Puerto Rico and in the United States mainland. “This decision is incongruent with the principles of equality and cannot go against our state of the law and what has been determined by courts higher than Pérez Gimenez’s,” he said. Serrano, spokesman for Puerto Rico para Tod@s, said the ruling will be appealed.
He also urged Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla to continue to allow same-sex marriages in Puerto Rico, and called upon local legislators and Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, David Bernier, to support same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.
“The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court approved marriage equality and the Puerto Rico Legislature has not yet done so is shameful,” Serrano said. “If the Legislature is really committed to equality, it must revise the Civil Code so it plainly recognizes marriage equality and all of the rights that the LGBTT people in Puerto Rico deserve.”