July 5, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Hurdle for Marriage Equality in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican Federal Judge Stands Up to Gay Marriage
Puerto Rican Federal Judge Stands Up to Gay Marriage

BY ANGELO CASIANO  |  3/10/2016  |  UPDATE: Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro García Padilla has instructed government entities to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognizing such marriages performed out-of-state


A United States District Court judge in Puerto Rico, Juan M. Pérez-Giménez, has just issued an order stating that the Supreme Court ruling that made same-sex marriage a constitutional right does not automatically apply to the island territory.

In a 10-page document, Perez-Gimenez denied the resources requested by the human rights defender and lawyer Ada Conde Vidal along with other plaintiffs almost two years ago against the constitutionality of Article 68 of the Civil Code of Puerto Rico that defines marriage as a civil institution between a man and a woman.

Perez-Gimemez said that the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling “does not incorporate the fundamental right in question to Puerto Rico through the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection under the laws”) nor does it invalidate Article 68 (which defines marriage in the Civil Code of Puerto Rico)”.

The judge followed by saying that, “[i]t is not within the jurisdiction of this court to declare, as the parties request that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to marriage for same-sex.”

Perez-Gimenez states that the Fourteenth Amendment, unlike the states, does not automatically apply to citizens of Puerto Rico since it was not precisely extended by the Supreme Court ruling in question. The judge says that a right to same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico requires further clarifying language from the Supreme Court of the United States, or the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico or by legislation from the US Congress in the exercise of the powers conferred under the territorial clause to overturn Puerto Rico law and amend or repeal Article 68.

“One would be tempted to assume that the constant reference to the “states” in the case Obergefell includes the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. However, it is not the function of this court to venture into such an interpretation,” says the judge in his decision.

“For these reasons, the Court concludes that the fundamental right to marry, as has been recognized by the Supreme Court in Obergefell, has not been incorporated into the legal reality of Puerto Rico,” he concludes.

Thus, the judge denied the plaintiffs’ request to rule that the ban against marriage for same-sex codified in Article 68 of Puerto Rico’s Civil Code is a constitutional violation.

It is important to note that the ruling also covers, and thus, denies, the plaintiffs’ second argument to the effect that refusing to recognize the marriages performed in other jurisdictions was a constitutional violation.

Pérez-Gimenez’s decision comes at a critical time.

The United States Supreme Court is poised to decide a pair of cases that will conclusively tell us how Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated U.S. territory shall be interpreted when allocating constitutional rights.

One of the cases deals with bankruptcy laws while the second (and most important one), Pueblo v. Sánchez seeks to clarify the reach of the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy clause.

Scalia’s position during oral arguments in Pueblo v. Sánchez were in favor of applying the Double Jeopardy clause. His position in that case would credit the notion that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory, which would in turn support the basis for Pérez-Gimenez’s decision not to automatically apply marriage equality to the Island.

Justice Scalia heard this case prior to his passing and almost certainly left his views in writing before his untimely death. The Plaintiffs in the case against Article 68 immediately vowed to return to Boston’s Court of Appeals for the First Circuit hoping for a summary reversal of tonight’s unfortunate and unexpected decision by Pérez-Gimenez.

Related Posts

Dyke Day LA Draws 1,500+ ‘Dykes of All Genders’

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

June 11 event draws NY Times coverage By Susan Payne More than 1,500 people descended on Sycamore Grove Park for...

Catalina Island’s Inaugural Pride Celebration Sees Youthful Turnout

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

June 18 event draws hundreds of locals and visitors to island By Susan Payne Avalon, a small town of nearly...

Pride Moment Comes Full Circle for LGBTQ+ Advocate

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Boys & Girls Club holds second annual Gabriel Valley Pride March By Susan Payne The Boys & Girls Clubs of...

Santa Monica’s Building Bridges Art Exchange Presents: J.J. Martin’s “Role Models”

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

A traveling exhibit in partnership with Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City and Real de Catorce Cultural Center, Real de Catorce,...

Los Angeles Frenchie Reaches Record Age Milestone for Its Breed, Surpassing Recent Life Expectancy Report by Three Fold

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Learn about Rocco the French bulldog  By Susan Payne Native to Brazil, Rocco the French bulldog has reached an age...

44 Years Later, MLB’s First Openly Gay Player Glenn Burke Now Celebrated by Dodgers

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Glenn Burke celebrated at Dodgers Pride night By Susan Payne The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ninth annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night celebrated...

The Book Jewel Celebrates Pride Month as a Community

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Westchester bookstore hosting series of events this month The Book Jewel in Westchester is hosting several events this month that...

A Staple Tamales Vendor’s Truck Was Stolen. Friends of the Vendor Are Asking for LGBTQ+ Support to Bring Back Her Only Source of Income

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

By Susan Payne For nearly 16 years, a 52-year-old single mother of two has been serving the Los Angeles LGBTQ+...

LGBT Center Welcomes Incoming CEO Joe Hollendoner

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

By Susan Payne In an in-person sustaining donor event last November, longtime Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean for the...

Culver City Pride Ride and Rally Around the Corner

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

Sunday, June 26, 2022, 9 AM Pride Ride | 11 AM Rally Culver City’s second ever Pride celebration is set...

Police: Catholic High School Football Players Sexually Assault New Student

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne Months of controversy over an alleged hazing scandal at a private high school in Santa Ana have...

Media Matters: Anti-Trans Violence Increases as TV News Coverage Drops 20%

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne A report released by Media Matters’ LGBTQ Program found that national cable and corporate broadcast TV networks...

Oil Can Harry’s Named Historic-Cultural Monument

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne For its historic and social significance to San Fernando Valley and the LGBTQ+ community, Oil Can Harry’s...

Music of Queen Preformed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles at Fairmont Century Plaza

June 7, 2022

June 7, 2022

Free event June 18th at 7p.m. To celebrate PRIDE the Fairmont Century Plaza located will host an incredible performance by...