Guam governor refuses to allow marriage licenses for same-sex couples

Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo (R-Guam)

Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo (R-Guam)

Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo (R-Guam)

Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo (R-Guam)

HAGATNA, Guam — The nation’s largest gay rights organization and Guam’s biggest newspaper are blasting the territory’s governor for not allowing marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples.

Guam’s attorney general on Wednesday said government officials should begin issuing licenses after a lesbian couple filed a federal lawsuit because they were denied a marriage application. But state officials, backed by the governor, refused the attorney general’s directive because it wasn’t a binding legal opinion. Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said lawmakers or the public could change the law to allow same-sex marriage, if that was their will.

James Perez Servino, an associate director of the Human Rights Campaign, issued a statement on the group’s website saying Calvo is “standing in the way of marriage equality.” He encouraged people to send messages to the governor’s office expressing their support for same-sex marriage.

“Gov. Eddie Calvo needs to retake civics after he passed the buck on the attorney general’s legal memorandum on gay marriage to lawmakers and voters,” an editorial in Friday’s Pacific Daily News says. “Calvo could have made the courageous decision to end discrimination against homosexuals in Guam.”

“The governor’s duty is to enforce our laws, not interpret them,” the editorial says.

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Calvo on Friday released a statement asking for more time to make a decision on a “question of this complexity and magnitude.”

The U.S. District Court of Guam falls under the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which has ruled in favor of gay marriage. Calvo noted that the court has stayed decisions on pending lawsuits for states grappling with the fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

“If the decision were so obvious on its face, the Supreme Court would have made the decision for the entire nation already. And the 9th Circuit would not have stayed its decision in the Alaska or Montana cases,” the governor said.

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