Metro Weekly

Puerto Rico drops defense of same-sex marriage ban

Photo Credit: Kevin Goebel/flickr.

Photo Credit: Kevin Goebel/flickr.

The government of Puerto Rico announced Friday it will no longer defend the U.S. territory’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda told reporters the commonwealth would cease defending the ban as a federal case seeking the right to marry for same-sex couples in Puerto Rico is currently before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

“It’s neither fair nor correct to defend the constitutionality of that law,” Miranda said, according to the Associated Press. “Same-sex couples cannot get married and therefore do not have access to those rights. They should be available to all those who love each other, who take care of each other, who work and contribute to this society like everyone else.” 

The announcement comes after a federal judge dismissed a case challenging Puerto Rico’s ban on same-sex marriage last year, breaking with a majority of federal judges who have struck down such bans as unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez found in October that it is up to the people and their representatives to debate “redefining marriage” and not judges.

The ruling was appealed to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Puerto Rico. Every state in the 1st Circuit — Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island — has marriage equality. It remains to be seen what the 1st Circuit will do now that Puerto Rico’s government is no longer defending the marriage ban.

In a filing notifying the 1st Circuit the ban will no longer be defended in court, attorneys for Puerto Rico’s government wrote their decision to cease defending the marriage ban was reached after concluding such laws “impermissibly burdens” same-sex couples’ rights to equal protection and the fundamental right to marry. They also requested the 1st Circuit postpone oral arguments in the case until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage later this year.

“This case represents but another attempt from a politically disadvantaged group of our society to be included within the full scope of the legal and constitutional protections that most of us take for granted,” the filing states. “Plaintiffs seek no preferential treatment; only equality. The Executive Branch of the Commonwealth recognizes the LGBT community’s right to equality under the law.”  

Puerto Rico Marriage Brief

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Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.

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