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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Gay couples in Guam start applying for marriage licenses

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) -- Two lesbian couples are among the first gay couples seeking to get married in Guam.

A federal judge on Friday struck down Guam's prohibition on same-sex marriage, making it the first U.S. territory to legalize same-sex marriages.

Couples on Tuesday morning local time lined up at the Office of Vital Statistics, where marriage licenses are issued. Among them were 28-year-old Loretta M. Pangelinan and 29-year-old Kathleen M. Aguero, whose lawsuit led to the court's decision.

They were allowed to be first in line to get apply for their marriage and a waiver of the five-day wait period. They planned to immediately get married by a territory official.
Also planning to marry immediately are Deasia Johnson of Killeen, Texas, and her fiance', Nikki Dismuke, 37, of New Orleans. They have been together three years and are in the military.

Gay couples began applying for marriage licenses first thing Tuesday morning in Guam after it became the first U.S. territory to recognize same-sex marriage.
Couples lined up at the Office of Vital Statistics, where marriage licenses are issued, early Tuesday morning local time. Among them were Loretta M. Pangelinan, 28, and Kathleen M. Aguero. 29.

They sued April 13 after a registrar denied them a marriage license because Guam law defines marriage as between two people of the opposite sex. The couple based their lawsuit on a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of same-sex marriage. The U.S. District Court of Guam falls under the 9th Circuit.

The applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue its decision on the constitutionality of gay marriage this month.

In April, Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson directed officials to begin processing same-sex marriage applications, but territorial officials, backed by Gov. Eddie Calvo, territory, refused. The governor sued, and he was represented by an outside firm because the attorney general didn't agree with the governor's lawsuit.
The ban was struck down Friday, but Tydingco-Gatewood gave the territory a couple of days to prepare the marriage applications.

Gay couples will be able to marry five days after applying for a license, but the wait period can be waived.

Currently, gay couples can marry in 36 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.
About 160,000 people live on Guam, an island about 3,800 miles west of Hawaii. Its residents are U.S. citizens, but they don't have the right to cast ballots for the country's president.

The territory elects a delegate to the U.S. House, but the delegate is not allowed to vote on legislation. Guam has no representation in the U.S. Senate.


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