January 27, 2015 at 12:01 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Appeals court asked to overturn Puerto Rico marriage ruling

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

Lambda Legal on Monday formally asked a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that upheld Puerto Rico’s same-sex marriage ban in a case that a lesbian couple filed in March 2013. (Photo courtesy of Pedro Julio Serrano)

An LGBT advocacy group on Monday asked a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s same-sex marriage ban.

Lambda Legal in a brief it filed with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston argued U.S. District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez last October “disregarded” U.S. Supreme Court “precedent and rendered a decision at odds with the majority of other courts” since the justices in 2013 struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“Every day that loving, committed couples in Puerto Rico are denied the dignity and respect of marriage represents one more day in which their families are at risk and the commonwealth sends a discriminatory message to LGBT people,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, staff attorney for Lambda Legal, in a press release.

Ada Conde Vidal and Ivonne Álvarez Vélez of San Juan last March filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Four additional gay and lesbian couples along with Lambda Legal and Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, joined the case three months later.

Lambda Legal quickly appealed Pérez-Giménez’s ruling to the 1st Circuit.

Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, who is among the defendants in the Vidal case, publicly supports civil unions for gays and lesbians. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is from Puerto Rico, are among those who back marriage rights for same-sex couples in the U.S. commonwealth.

“We remain undeterred by the district court’s ruling and look forward to vindicating the rights of LGBT Puerto Ricans,” said Gonzalez-Pagan.

Same-sex couples are able to legally marry in 36 states and D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 16 announced it will hear four cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee in which same-sex couples are seeking marriage rights.

The justices in April are expected to hear oral arguments in the cases that will provide the final word on whether gays and lesbians can legally marry throughout the U.S.

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

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