A federal appeals court on Wednesday
struck down Puerto Rico's ban on gay marriage.
A three-judge panel of the First
Circuit Court of Appeals declared the ban unconstitutional.
The court handed down its ruling less
than two weeks after the Supreme Court declared that gay and lesbian
couples have a constitutional right to marry in all 50 states.
Plaintiffs in the case, five gay
couples and LGBT rights group Puerto Rico Para Todos, turned to the
appeals court after U.S. District Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez upheld the
Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia
Padilla announced earlier this year that his administration would no
longer defend the ban in court.
The First Circuit cited the Supreme
Court ruling, titled Obergefell v. Hodges, in its decision.
“Upon consideration of the parties'
Joint Response Pursuant to Court Order filed June 26, 2015, we vacate
the district court's Judgment in this case and remand the matter for
further consideration in light of Obergefell v. Hodges,” the
judges wrote. “We agree with the parties' joint position that
the ban is unconstitutional.”
The U.S. territory was already on track
to issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Officials had said that
they expect to begin on July 15.