US Appeals Court rules in favor of gay marriage in Puerto Rico
Apr 10, 2016 10:29 AM EDT
In a ruling that has both civil, as well as geo-political undertones, the US First Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico.
The US Appeals Court declared the District Court's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional, even throwing the judge off the case in an extraordinary step to dramatize its indignation over the decision, reported BuzzFeedNews. In an unsigned opinion the court strongly chastised the action of US District Court Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez and ordered that the case "be assigned randomly by the clerk to a different judge to enter judgment in favor of the Petitioners promptly."
First Circuit Judges Juan Torruella, Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson, and William Joseph Kayatta Jr. heard the appellate action but the opinion was issued "per curiam," meaning, "by the court" - as such, it does not have to be signed by any particular judge or judges.
In October 2014 Perez-Gimenez had ruled in favor of the ban but the same appeals court, the First District, returned the case to his bench after the US Supreme Court struck down gay marriage bans nationwide in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodge. Perez-Gimenez was ordered to reconsider the matter in light of Obergefell with the appeals court informing him they agreed with the appellants that the ban was unconstitutional. Notwithstanding the order Perez-Gimenez ruled in favor of the ban for the second time, arguing that the US Supreme Court ruling does not apply to Puerto Rico which is a territory and not a state.
The appeals court, however, disagreed according to ABC News, as it said Thursday that Perez-Gimenez misconstrued the law and directly contradicted the court's mandate. It granted the motion of parties challencing the ban to issue an order "requiring the district court to enter judgment in their favor striking down the ban as unconstitutional."
In June 2015 gay communities across America celebrated the decision of the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodge allowing same-sex marriage nationwide. Teen Vogue reported that the hero of the day was Justice Anthony Kennedy, a longtime supporter of gay rights who wrote the majority opinion.
"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were," he said. "As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death."
Before the ruling just 36 states allowed gay marriage, but since then Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas must allow all Americans to marry who they love, regardless of gender.
Roll out the banners and streamers for Gay Pride parade now. With the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, gender equality rights have transcended the tradtional boundaries of America and expanded the definition of "nationwide" to include its territories.