The gay marriage debate has scattered
across the Pacific and reached the shores of Guam, a U.S. territory,
NBC affiliate KUAM News reported.
The Guam Youth Congress, an advisory
body to the Guam Legislature, first introduced a civil unions bill
that would grant gay and lesbian couples all the rights and
obligations of heterosexual married spouses in June, bill 138.
Vice-Speaker Benjamin “BF” Cruz
followed up with a gay-inclusive domestic partnership bill. The bill
would grant “partners to a domestic partnership … all the same
rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law,
whether derived from statutes, administrative rules, court decisions,
the common law, or any other source of civil law, as granted to
spouses (The Contract of Marriage).”
Cruz said the move to domestic
partnerships was a concession to the Catholic Church: “Guam's bill
is domestic partnership, unfortunately. It is not the marriage, it
is not the civil union. I have promised the Archbishop [Anthony
Apuron] not to use either one of those two words though the bill does
provide the same benefits that married heterosexual couples receive.
I had to try to meet everybody half way. I recognize that the
archbishop is concerned about the the use of the word marriage and
civil union. I didn't have a ceremony because he didn't want a
ceremony, it is now just an application.”
“It's like applying for a driver's
license,” he added.
Despite Cruz's compromises with the
church, Archbishop Anthony Apuron called the new bill an affront to
A public hearing on the domestic
partnership bill drew a standing-room only crowd last month.
Opponents and proponents of the bill waited patiently for hours to
Roy Burk, pastor of Life in the Son
Christian Fellowship Church, said that as an African American he was
“sickened” by comparisons between the gay rights and civil rights
“Bill 185 [the domestic partnership
bill] would server to legitimize lifestyle preferences which are a
threat to family and society,” he said.
“[The bill] will undermine the
traditional institution of marriage,” Archbishop Apuron testified
in a written statement.
Yesterday, Republican Guam Senator Jim
Espaldon introduced a watered-down bill that grants gay and lesbian
couples 15 rights – centered mostly on hospital visitations – and
calls the union an agreement between “designated beneficiaries.”
“I listened to those arguments
[presented at last month's hearing] and came up with this bill 212
and I hope it's a compromise where both parties are satisfied,”
While Democrats hold a 2-to-1 majority
in Guam's single-house Legislature, prospects of passage for the bill