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A remote US island has struck a blow for marriage equality in the Pacific

Guam has struck down a ban on same-sex marriage.

Image: Shutterstock

GUAM HAS BECOME the first US territory to recognise same-sex marriage after a federal judge struck down the prohibition.

A district court judge issued the decision after a hearing this morning. It goes into effect at 8 am Tuesday, when gay couples can begin applying for marriage licences, the Pacific Daily News reported.

Attorneys representing the government of Guam said in a 18 May court document that “should a court strike current Guam law, they would respect and follow such a decision.”

The western Pacific island of Guam is not a US State but it elects one member to the US House of Representatives and its members are US citizens.

Guam, however, does not send any members in the US Senate and has no electoral college votes that select the US Presdident.

Two women, Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero, filed the lawsuit in April after the 28-year-old women were denied a marriage licence.

They based their lawsuit on a Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year in favour of same-sex marriage. The US District Court of Guam falls under the Circuit Court.

Attorneys for the Guam plaintiffs had argued the territory must fall in line and accept marriage licence applications unless the US Supreme Court rules otherwise.

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The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Currently, gay couples can marry in 36 states, the District of Columbia and now, Guam.

Lawyers for Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo and the Office of Vital Statistics registrar said making a decision when a ruling from the high court is imminent is impractical.

Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson appointed an attorney to represent Calvo because they didn’t agree on the lawsuit; she was in favour of issuing licences.

Calvo has said the island’s same-sex marriage law is “being challenged by federal judges that were nominated by a U.S. president and confirmed by a U.S Senate, none of whom were elected through a process that included the people of Guam.”

Read: “These are people who can’t grow potatoes” – Ireland dragged into Australia’s gay marriage debate >

Read: Where in the world is it hardest to be gay? (And what can Ireland do to help?) >

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