SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Puerto Rican government plans to announce this week a change of position and withdraw its defense of the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage, according to a report in El Nuevo Día.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s administration is “reassessing” a change of opinion now that marriage equality has rapidly expanded to 37 U.S. states.
The U.S. island territory’s ban is being challenged in a federal appeals court and Padilla, who is named as a defendant in the suit, has until Friday to submit a formal response to the case with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The court is hearing the appeal after federal judge in San Juan upheld the ban last October. Puerto Rico is the only jurisdiction under the First Circuit that still bans same-sex marriages.
National gay rights group Lambda Legal is representing the five same-sex couples who are plaintiffs in the case — two couples who seek to marry in Puerto Rico, and three couples who live on the island and married elsewhere.
Article continues below“We are encouraged that the government is reconsidering its defense of its discriminatory ban on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, in a statement.
“We look forward to what the government will say in its response to our appeal, and hope Puerto Rico will join the several other state officials over the past year who have also ceased defense of marriage bans in similar cases,” said Gonzalez-Pagan.