Governor Calvo needs more time on same-sex marriage - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Governor Calvo needs more time on same-sex marriage

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Governor Eddie Calvo is asking for the community's patience on the issue of same-sex marriage on Guam. Not only was a lawsuit filed this week challenging Guam's marriage law, the attorney general issued legal guidance clearing the way for same-gender couples to file for a marriage license locally.

She based her decision on an October 2014 opinion by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled state bans on same-sex marriages were unconstitutional. Despite this, the Department of Public Health is still refusing to issue the licenses because it's still under review by Adelup.

The entire issue has sparked heated debate in the community. Governor Calvo in his statement today said that although he opposes discrimination in every form and fashion. He is asking for the public's patience. "This isn't an issue that can or should be decided in a few days. Other jurisdictions have been grappling with this issue for years; Guam has only been grappling with it for days," he wrote.

He added that In the 9th Circuit, there are also cases reviewing same-sex marriage laws in Montana and Alaska, which the 9th Circuit has stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in several 6th Circuit Court cases it is hearing next week.

"I know you all want an answer," he wrote. "But if the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court feel they need the time to review and resolve the question, is there any reason why I shouldn't also be provided the same consideration? Contrary to statements based on unconfirmed reports that my mind is made up, it isn't. I know some people want a quick answer, but for a question of this complexity and magnitude, I owe the people of Guam more than a quick answer. I owe them a well-informed decision."

Following is the governor's full statement.

Although the question of same sex marriage has been legally reviewed by several courts in the states for several years, it is something that arose very recently on Guam. It was just Tuesday afternoon when my office received the lawsuit. It was Wednesday when the Attorney General sent her memo, which was based on the Ninth Circuit's decision on Latta vs Otter. Unfortunately, on that same day I was heading to meetings with federal officials in California.

I've instructed my legal team to research the issue taking into consideration all of the decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court - which now it appears includes more than just the Latta case. In the Ninth Circuit, there are also cases reviewing same-sex marriage laws in Montana and Alaska, which the Ninth Circuit has stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in several Sixth Circuit Court cases it is hearing next week.

I have the utmost respect for the Attorney General, her staff and their research, but it is not clear to me to what extent the Ninth Circuit's stay of the cases in Alaska and Montana were included in her review. Recent statements from the lawyers representing the plaintiffs and others on the side of ignoring existing Guam law also only acknowledge the Latta case in the Ninth Circuit. If that decision were truly the binding law on Guam, one would have to ask then why even the Ninth Circuit has not continued applying that decision throughout other states under its jurisdiction. This is why I have my legal team also reviewing the issue.

But to the extent I am being called on by any individual or groups to act immediately on an issue that has been brought before the courts of Guam only this week, my response is that I need all of this information, so that I, as governor of Guam can fulfill my duty and my responsibility of making an informed decision for the island. This isn't an issue that can or should be decided in a few days. Other jurisdictions have been grappling with this issue for years; Guam has only been grappling with it for days.

If the decision were so obvious on its face, the Supreme Court would have made the decision for the entire nation already. And the Ninth Circuit would not have stayed its decision in the Alaska or Montana cases.

To be clear, I understand the call for equal treatment. I oppose discrimination in every form and fashion. The issue being debated in the courts, as far as I currently understand it, is whether same-sex marriage is a fundamental right that cannot be restricted by any state (or territorial) government, or whether the states have the right to have the issue determined locally by their state legislatures.  As important as the preservation of individual rights are in our democracy, many would argue that the preservation of states rights are also essential. This is what the U.S. Supreme Court needs to resolve.

I know you all want an answer. But if the Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court feel they need the time to review and resolve the question, is there any reason why I shouldn't also be provided the same consideration? Contrary to statements based on unconfirmed reports that my mind is made up, it isn't. I know some people want a quick answer, but for a question of this complexity and magnitude, I owe the people of Guam more than a quick answer. I owe them a well-informed decision.

I thank you all for your questions. God bless you.
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