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Guam same-sex couple sue for right to marry

09 April 2015, 10:29

Hagatna, Guam-A gay couple in Guam are preparing to take legal action for the right to wed after the health department in the US territory rejected their application for a marriage licence.

Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero have lived together as a couple for several years, and their lawyer argues there is nothing in Guam law that prohibits the 28-year-olds from entering a matrimonial agreement.

"I am extremely confident of our victory in court. The law is very clear," attorney Bill Pesch said, adding that court documents were being filed.

Co-attorney Todd Thompson said the women were "denied equal protection of the laws" by the department's refusal to accept their application.

"So it will basically seek the remedy of allowing them and other people who are similarly situated on Guam to get married," he said.

Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson issued a statement Thursday supporting the Health Department's refusal to process the marriage application.

Guam's marriage statute was based on the 1939 version of California's civil code "on consent to marry between a man and woman", she said.

"Although the definition of marriage is a consent of parties, which implies gender neutrality, Guam law conditions marriage upon the act of solemnization that is only permitted between a husband and wife," she added.

A bill filed in the Guam legislature in 2009 proposed to legalise civil unions between same-sex couples, but the legislation fell through after a debate that polarized the predominantly Catholic island.

The Guam tax department does allow same-sex couples married elsewhere but living on the Western Pacific island to file joint tax returns.

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