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Puerto Rico says it will no longer defend same-sex marriage ban

Puerto-Rico

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Miranda made the announcement a week after a group of legislators from Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s party said they supported gay marriage, including Senate President Eduardo Bhatia. While the governor has repeatedly stated that he is not in favor of gay marriage, he said he supports the change.

“Everyone knows my religious beliefs, but it’s not up to political leaders to impose our creeds,” he said. “We have to push for the progress of civil and human rights under equal conditions for everyone.”

Thirty-seven U.S. states allow same-sex marriages, a number that has quadrupled in the last two years. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of June regarding several same-sex marriage cases that would also apply to Puerto Rico and four other U.S. territories.

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Opposition lawmakers and religious leaders criticized Friday’s announcement and accused Garcia of imposing changes instead of consulting with the public and holding a referendum.

“This is a slap in the face to Puerto Rican society,” said legislator Maria Milagros Charbonier. “The government should not be playing around with issues as delicate as that of family, which is the cornerstone of our island.”

Amarilis Pagan, spokeswoman for a local equal rights committee, said in a phone interview that advocates will now push Puerto Rico’s government to reverse a law that bans adoptions by same-sex parents. The island’s Supreme Court upheld the law in a 2013 ruling following an appeal by a Puerto Rican woman who sought to adopt a teenage girl that her partner of more than 20 years had given birth to through in vitro fertilization.

Puerto Rico’s legislature has approved several measures in recent years in favor of the gay community, including one that prohibits employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, and another that extends a domestic violence law to gay couples.

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