U.S. District Court Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí issued his ruling hours after the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the U.S. commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.
The 1st Circuit ruled last July in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the country that Puerto Rico’s gay nuptials ban is unconstitutional. Pérez-Giménez last month said the Obergefell ruling did not apply to Puerto Rico because it is not a state.
“In ruling that the ban is not unconstitutional because the applicable constitutional right does not apply to Puerto Rico, the district court both misconstrued that right and directly contradicted our mandate,” said the 1st Circuit in its latest ruling.
Five same-sex couples; Lambda Legal and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban in 2014.
Pérez-Giménez dismissed the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs appealed the ruling to the 1st Circuit. Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s administration in 2015 announced it would no longer defend the same-sex marriage ban.
The 1st Circuit on Thursday ordered another judge to consider the case.
“We are pleased that the new district court judge moved so quickly to heed the First Circuit’s instructions and strike the provisions of Puerto Rico law that purport to block recognition of the marriages of LGBT people,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, on Friday in a press release. “Marriage equality is the law of the land in the states and territories alike. It is a judge’s duty to apply the law without bias or regard to their personal views. We are gratified that Judge Gelpí has swiftly and clearly affirmed that the fundamental right to marry applies to all persons in Puerto Rico, including LGBT people.”