October 17, 2014 at 11:32 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Plaintiffs in Puerto Rico marriage lawsuit oppose motion to delay ruling

Ivonne Álvarez Velez, Pedro Julio Serrano, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, Ada Conde Vidal, gay news, Washington Blade

Ivonne Álvarez Velez, left, with Pedro Julio Serrano of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s and Ada Conde Vidal. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Julio Serrano)

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Puerto Rico’s same-sex marriage ban on Wednesday filed a brief in opposition to a motion that urges the court to delay its ruling in the case.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of Lambda Legal and Ada Conde Vidal filed the brief in U.S. District Court in San Juan in response to the motion that Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s administration submitted earlier this month.

“Plaintiffs suffer irreparable injury as a direct result of defendants’ enforcement of Puerto Rico’s marriage ban,” wrote Gonzalez-Pagan. “Delay in the adjudication of the claims in this case has very real and ongoing consequences for plaintiffs and their families.”

Conde and her partner, Ivonne Álvarez Velez of San Juan in March filed the lawsuit seeking recognition of their Massachusetts marriage. Four other same-sex couples; Lambda Legal and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, joined the case in June.

García’s administration in August filed a motion with the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 6 declined to hear same-sex marriage cases from Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Gonzalez-Pagan wrote in his brief that gays and lesbians as of Wednesday were able to legally marry in 30 states and D.C.

A federal judge on Friday ruled Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Gonzalez-Pagan noted “a remarkable and nearly unbroken seismic wave of federal court rulings across the country” have struck down “state statutory and constitutional marriage bans similar to Puerto Rico’s ban.”

“This case, these plaintiffs and Puerto Rico’s marriage ban should be treated no differently,” said Gonzalez-Pagan.

Puerto Rican lawmakers in 1999 amended the U.S. commonwealth’s civil code to ban recognition of same-sex marriages, including those legally performed in other jurisdictions.

García supports civil unions for gays and lesbians. He has signed bills into law that ban anti-LGBT discrimination on the island and added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the U.S. commonwealth’s domestic violence laws since taking office in January 2013.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz publicly supports marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

3 Comments
  • PR is in the same Federal District as most of New England. Why the difficulty in marriage equality recognition? Who knows out there and could comment?

  • There's been no ruling for marriage equality in that Circuit even though all of the states within already have it. No binding precedent controls yet (though SCOTUS has made it prettyclear where this issue is going).

  • Thanks, Ed. I wondered about that myself since all the states "up there" had moved on their accord without federal "intervention." Again, thanks!

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