Gay and lesbian couples started
marrying in Guam on Tuesday, just days after a federal judge struck
down the U.S. territory's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional.
Nikki Dismuke and Deasia Johnson were
the first in line as the Department of Public Health and Social
Services opened at 8 AM.
The women stepped aside so that
plaintiffs Kathleen M. Aguero and Loretta M. Pangelinan would be the
first gay couple to apply for and receive a marriage license.
Dismuke and Johnson exchanged vows
shortly after they were issued a marriage license. Public Health
Director James Gilan presided over the ceremony, while Aguero and
Pangelinan – who are planning an August wedding – served as
Aguero and Pangelinan, both 28, filed
their lawsuit in April, five days after they were denied a marriage
license in the village of Mangilao.
Guam falls under the jurisdiction of
the Ninth Circuit Court, which has struck down similar bans in
Attorneys representing the women argued
that Guam has no choice but to follow the Ninth Circuit's decisions
and begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
A private attorney was hired to
represent Republican Governor Eddie Calvo, a defendant in the case,
after Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson refused to
defend the ban in court. Calvo said that the ban reflects “the
will of the people.”
Guam is the first U.S. territory to
have marriage equality.