Puerto Rico on Friday announced that it
would no longer defend in court a law that limits marriage to
heterosexual couples and prohibits the recognition of the marriages
of gay and lesbian couples performed elsewhere.
Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda
announced the reversal.
“The decision recognizes that all
human beings are equal before the law,” Miranda said in a
statement. “We believe in an equal society in which everyone
enjoys the same rights.”
Last year, a federal judge upheld
Puerto Rico's ban, saying that allowing such unions could lead to
plural and incestuous marriages. Plaintiffs in the case, three
couples who want Puerto Rico to recognize their marriages and two
couples who wish to marry in the territory, appealed the decision to
the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes under its
jurisdiction five states which allow gay couples to marry, plus
Friday was the last day that Puerto
Rico had to file its response in the case.
“Because Puerto Rico's marriage ban
impermissibly burdens Plaintiffs' rights to the equal protection of
the laws and the fundamental right to marry, we have decided to cease
defending its constitutionality based on an independent assessment
about its validity under the current state of the law,” lawyers
representing the state said
in their brief.
Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, a
Democrat and a defendant in the case, has previously stated his
opposition to marriage equality.
“Everyone knows my religious beliefs
but political leaders should not impose their beliefs,” the
43-year-old practicing Catholic said in a statement Friday.