Guam becomes 1st U.S. territory to legalize gay marriage

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |
Groom Fu Zheng wears a silver bow tie at a group wedding for seven same-sex couples from China, in West Hollywood, California, United States, June 9, 2015. The gay couples were selected as winners of a contest hosted by internet giant Alibaba. China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, but does not recognize same-sex marriages. | REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

GUAM (Christian Examiner) -- Guam on Monday became the first U.S. territory to recognize gasame-sex marriage, three days after a federal judge struck down the island's law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Nikki Dismuke-Johnson, 37, and Deasia Johnson, 27, were the first couple to take advantage of the decision by federal Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, who issued the ruling Friday in declaring the law unconstitutional.

"We're glad that we're finally able to do it here in Guam," Johnson told the Pacific Daily News.

The judge's ruling wasn't a surprise. Guam falls under jurisdiction of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued a pro-gay marriage ruling last year. Every western state within that circuit recognizes same-sex marriage.

More significant than the Ninth Circuit ruling, though, is a pending ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which by the end of the month could legalize gay marriage in all 50 states in what would be tantamount to the same-sex marriage version of Roe v. Wade.

The judge's ruling also ended a divide between Republican governor Eddie Calvo -- who opposes gay marriage and said the island shouldn't recognize it – and Republican attorney general Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson, who had said the Ninth Circuit's decision required Guam to hand out marriage licenses to gay couples.

Last year at a public forum, Calvo had based his opposition to gay marriage on the fact that only a man and a woman can procreate, and on his belief that gay marriage would open a Pandora's Box and lead to the legalization of polygamous marriage.

"Once you change what the institution of marriage is, and if it's only because of consenting adults ... you've got to understand where it leads to," he said, according to KUAM-TV. "By the way, I'm not trying to put my morals on anybody. I just want everyone to understand that when society makes that move ... there will be more questioning."