The Freedom to Marry in U.S. Territories
Winning Marriage: June 26, 2015
The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide on June 26, 2015, bringing the freedom to marry to the entire country and its territories. The decision followed years of legislation and litigation in the U.S. territories.
- May 31, 1994: Lawmakers in Guam define marriage as between opposite-sex couples in Health and Safety statute.
- March 19, 1999: The Puerto Rico legislature passes a state statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples.
- 2003: Representative Sua Carl Schuster attempts to ban marriage for same-sex couples in Samoa.
- March 20, 2003: The Samoa Senate rejects Rep Schuster’s proposal to ban marriage for same-sex couples in the territory.
- March 25, 2014: A Same-sex couple and Lambda Legal file a federal legal case seeking the freedom to marry in Puerto Rico, Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla.
- May 2014: Senator Judi Buckley introduces legislation that would bring the freedom to marry to the Virgin Islands. The legislation is defeated later that year by anti-marriage opponents.
- October 21, 2014: Guam Judge Juam M. Perez-Gimenez dismisses Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla, stating that banning same-sex couples from marriage in the territory does not violate the United States’ Constitution. The legal team appeals to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
- March 20, 2014: Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice speaks out in favor of the freedom to marry in the territory, arguing that the ban on marriages between same-sex couples goes against the U.S. Constitution.
- April 13, 2015: After two women apply to get a marriage license in Guam and are denied, the couple files a lawsuit in Guam District Court, Aguero v. Calvo. Their action raises awareness of the issue within the territory, and just one day later, the Guam Pacific Daily News speaks out in favor of the freedom to marry.
- April 15, 2015: Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson orders Guam officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, her order is later halted when Governor Eddie Calvo argues for waiting for the United States Supreme Court’s ruling before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On the same day, the First Circuit Court suspends proceedings in Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla, the marriage case in Puerto Rico, pending a ruling from the United States Supreme Court.
- June 5, 2015: Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood rules in favor of the freedom to marry. The ruling goes into effect on June 9, and same-sex couples begin getting married in Guam that day.
- June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples across the United States and its territories.
- June 30, 2015: Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp announces that the Virgin Islands will comply with the United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of the freedom to marry.
- July 8, 2015: The First Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the freedom to marry in Puerto Rico.
- July 17, 2015: The first same-sex couples get married in Puerto Rico.
- July 22, 2015: The first same-sex couple gets married in Northern Mariana Islands.
- July 28, 2015: Governor Kenneth Mapp officially signs the freedom to marry into law in the Virgin Islands.
- August 2015: Legislators in Guam pass Bill No. 119-33, which provides same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities of marriage as different-sex couples. The bill passes by a great majority, and goes into effect on August 27.