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Guam leaders comment on DOMA decision

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Supreme Court of the United States handed down two historic decisions on same sex marriage today. One gives same-sex couples federal benefits while the other paves the way for same-sex marriages in California. 

Hundreds of supporters for same-sex marriage erupted in cheers outside the Supreme Court when justices struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. The 5-4 ruling means the federal government must now give the same benefits to same-sex couples.

83-year-old Edie Windsor challenged DOMA after she was forced to pay taxes on her partner's estate, saying, "I cried, I cried."

Guam Alternative Lifestyle Association executive director Tim De La Cruz applauds the recent ruling and decisions that not only struck down DOMA and restored marriage equality in California. Dela Cruz says "The court's ruling pushes the struggle for relationship equality forward and maintains our shared and cherished values of equality and equal protection for all under the law, regardless of who you are and who you love."

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, who previously introduced legislation to allow same-sex civil unions on Guam, says he's happy with the ruling as all federal employees on Guam and all soldiers and sailors here will be able to get the same benefits for their significant others and partners as other military personnel.

But Cruz says the application of the decision on Guam will be interesting as those who marry in places where it is legal may come to Guam and file a joint return. "All federal regulations now have to be provided to all people, so if you have a gay lover, you guys can get GHURA housing together, WIC together, you can get Social Security together," he stated.

Derick Baza Hills, an advocate of same-sex civil unions says the SCOTUS decision allows the community on Guam to be more educated about the rights and benefits of the couple. "Here on Guam, I'm hopeful with the Legislature with undecided and those who have decided not to support marriage for same-sex couples, I think it's more now a matter of are we pushing to a more perfect union for our island. Are we moving our island in the right direction?" he asked.

Vice Speaker Cruz meanwhile says he isn't rushing to re-introduce same-sex civil unions legislation as he believes history has made it clear that doing so would be an act in futility. "In an ideal world," he shared, "I would except that I can count and I know that I don't have eight senators that would vote with me and more importantly I don't think I have ten that would override the veto, which I'm sure the governor would veto even if it's passed."

Cruz is hopeful a gay couple on the island will attempt to get benefits from the government and file tax returns together to test the limits and take the matter to court to resolve the issue once and for all.

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