Same-sex couple wanting to marry files suit in District Court - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Same-sex couple wanting to marry files suit in District Court

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"It feels good," said Kathleen Aguero, adding, "we are one step closer. We have a lot of support overwhelming support nationwide islandwide everywhere."

Lesbian couple Aguero and Loretta Pangelinan have been committed to each other for nearly a decade sharing their lives together and parenting three foster children. Last week they were denied an opportunity to apply for a marriage license when they attempted to file for one at the Department of Public Health's Vital Statistics Office. Since then the two have shared their story they have garnered support and criticism from the community, with Aguero saying, "But this is not a religious battle it is a civil rights battle that is really all it is."

A battle they have taken to the District Court of Guam where they filed a lawsuit against Governor Eddie Calvo and Carolyn Garrido, the registrar in the Office of Vital Statistics. Their attorney is Todd Thompson, who said, "We filed four principal documents there the complaint, a motion for summary judgment, a motion for preliminary injunction, and a motion for the court to expedite the ruling on the case...we're seeking marriage equality for all we are asking the judge to obey the 9th Circuit precedent, which says that sex is not an appropriate distinction to make when filing for a marriage license."

According to Attorney Thompson the complaint is predominantly based on the 9th Circuit's recent decision in the Latta v. Otter case and vital statistics is obligated to accept and process their clients' marriage application. He  contends that Guam is under the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction and  therefore Guam's marriage laws violate the constitutional rights of equal protection and due process. He added that all the jurisdictions in the 9th Circuit Court except Guam and the CNMI are currently processing same-sex marriage applications and permitting same sex couples to marry in compliance with the Latta decision.

"It's up to the attorney general as to what she wants to do it's up to the governor and the other defendant we don't want to tell them what to do but we think the right thing for them to do would be to back off and say that history has come we are going a new direction and Guam will be leading the pack instead of being dragged behind kicking and screaming," Thompson stated.  While he says that matter should have been resolved last week by Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, he states, "The attorney general's decision to defer any action and instead wait until the US Supreme Court decides the matter undermines the integrity of her high office and violates her oath to uphold the US Constitution."

He added, "Our clients came to us said they want to get married now and that's exactly what we are going to try to do for them. There are many people who are saying why are you doing this now why not wait two months until the Supreme Court makes its decision and I know we all look at it this is clear the 9th Circuit has already ruled on the matter there is no reason to wait - our clients want equality now."

Thompson and Attorney Bill Pesch are welcoming all those who are a same-sex couple who want to marry to contact them to discuss the matter further. 

In response to the federal lawsuit, the Governor's Office issued the following statement:

"The governor, who just returned from his trip to Korea and China, is aware that the attorney general has stated that Guam law, as currently written, prescribes marriage as between a man and a woman.  Given this information, unless the law is changed by the Legislature, or unless a judicial edict is issued declaring the Guam law to be inorganic or unconstitutional, he believes the Department of Public Health should continue to enforce the law as written.

He also has said if the people of Guam want local laws to change as a reflection of evolving societal norms then the question should be determined by a referendum - which will be a true reflection of the people's will."


Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero filed their lawsuit in the District Court today. The couple was denied an opportunity to apply for a marriage license last week at the Department of Public Health. Pangelinan and Aguero have been together for nine years and are foster parents to three children. They are being represented by the law firms of Thompson, Gutierrez & Alcantara and Bill Pesch’s Guam Family Law Office. The couple asserts that Guam’s marriage laws violate their Constitutional rights of equal protection and due process.

Posted by KUAM News on Sunday, April 12, 2015

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