Puerto Rico Approves Marriage Equality Following SCOTUS Ruling
Following the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision approving marriage equality throughout the U.S. and all its territories, the government of Puerto Rico has moved quickly to acquiesce to the court's decision, approving marriage equality in the island.
Puerto Rico, the U.S. largest territory with more than 3 million people, will begin issuing marriage licenses to LGBT couples in 15 days. A press release explained the governor signed an executive order on Friday soon after the Supreme Court's decision instructing all agencies of the executive branch to begin taking the necessary steps to fulfill the historic ruling.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla also ordered the Department of Housing, the Department of Health and the island's demographic registry to commence the process to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses and "make any necessary adjustments to tax rules."
Puerto Rico's governor, despite being mired in an economic crisis, has been an advocate of LGBT rights on the island, pushing for anti-discrimination legislation and granting benefits to LGBT public servants, among others.
"The Supreme Court's decision today is an important recognition of the struggles of the LGBT community and all those who resisted against discrimination anonymously. They have my respect and admiration," Gov. García Padilla said in a statement.
He continued to say that the ruling ensures the triumph of human dignity, adding that "to recognize and defend the rights of others guarantees and, in turn, strengthens the protection of our freedoms of expression, worship and, yes, love."
The territory's Justice Secretary, César Miranda, welcomed the decision and called for a continued push for equality in all areas, as well as ending poverty. He also asserted the ruling will not allow the Puerto Rican government to prevent same-sex couples from marrying.
He filed a motion for the First Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on a case in which the Puerto Rican government is being sued over its same-sex marriage ban. Gov. García Padilla instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the law in March.
Soon after the Supreme Court's announcement, the Twitter account for the Puerto Rican senate changed, donning the same rainbow colors that appeared on the White House's account.
The Puerto Rican senate took the initiative and began the process to amend the island's civil code to include same-sex couples. Senate president Eduardo Bathia along with senators Ramón Luis Nieves, Miguel Pereira, Mari Tere González and José Nadal Power filed Bill 1440 to amend Article 68 of the island's civil code.
"We are going to bring the 21st century to Puerto Rico's civil code," said Sen. Pereira, according to the island's senate Twitter.
"We will continue working to create a more free and equal Puerto Rico," added Sen. Nieves.
According to the Associated Press, Catholic leaders on the island have vowed to continue fighting against marriage equality.