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Guam celebrates nationwide marriage equality

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You may have noticed the rainbow-coated Facebook feed this weekend or the several Pride celebrations throughout the world including Guam - but for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community June 2015 will go down in history as the Pride Month to remember as the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the entire nation.

Bill Pesch and Corman Smau celebrated the tail end of Pride Month the same way that they met 19 years ago on Guam. "We met January 1, 1996," recalled Pesch. "We were actually on the dance floor and we met each other at a dance club and we kind of relived that moment the other night when we had the Gay Pride Party, and we danced straight for three hours!"

And while June is celebrated as LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots, it will also go down in history to when marriage equality became legal nationwide. "The timing couldn't have been better, that's for sure. And we're elated, we're glad with the decision," Pesch added.

Bill and Corman are one of thousands of same-sex couples who woke up early Saturday morning to the US Supreme Court issuing a landmark decision that same-sex marriage is legal in every state. Jim Obergefell was the lead plaintiff in the case who fought Ohio's refusal to recognize his out-of-state marriage to his long time partner. Obergefell shared his story with the people of Guam in May when he delivered the University of Guam commencement address.

And just weeks later, the US District Court of Guam would rule in favor of same-sex marriage on island. "As I say, in my lifetime, I've gone through being considered mentally ill when I was a child, it wasn't until 1973 that the psychiatric profession finally said it wasn't a mental illness, to today where you can get married. It's been a tremendous road to progress," said Pesch. (Pesch, as you recall, is one of the attorney's behind the same-sex marriage lawsuit on Guam.)

And while they've been together for nearly two decades, Bill and Corman only tied the knot a year ago in Vancouver, Washington - never realizing it could happen here at home, let alone the entire nation so soon. "We have two sons, and our oldest son was about to be a senior in high school and I really wanted us to be a legal family before we graduated from high school and I didn't think it was going to happen here within the next year," he said.

And what a difference a year makes, as Pesch noted, "It makes our family legal no matter where I go, and I know for both Corman and Myself, that's very important."

And whether it's through social media or even the White House who lit up in rainbow lights following the Supreme Court's ruling - Bill and Corman appreciate the support. They note while the battle is not yet over, for today, love wins. "I think there's been real shifts in the public sentiment toward this issue and other such issues, and it's worked for our benefit, and I think it's good for the nation to be more inclusive on these different areas, it makes us a better nation, a strong nation," he explained.

As of Friday, the Department of Public Health has processed 15 marriage applications for same-sex couples.

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