The Puerto Rican government announced March 20 that it will no longer defend the U.S. commonwealth's same-sex marriage ban, The Washington Blade noted.
"Because of sexual orientation, Puerto Rico has denied rights that others enjoy," said Justice Minister Cesar Miranda during a press conference in San Juan. "This is not correct."
The announcement coincided with a brief Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla's administration will file with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which is hearing a lawsuit against the island's same-sex marriage ban.
Marriage is legal in 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
The original article is at www.washingtonblade.com/2015/03/20/puerto-rican-government-to-no-longer-defend-marriage-ban/ .
From Lambda Legal:
( San Juan, PR, March 20, 2015 ) - Today, Puerto Rico's Secretary of Justice CÃ©sar Miranda announced that he will submit a brief saying he would no longer oppose the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Puerto Ricans to marry in support Lambda Legal's lawsuit seeking to end the discriminatory ban on marriage for LGBT people on the island, saying he agrees the ban is unconstitutional and should be lifted.
"In declining to further defend the Commonwealth's discriminatory marriage ban, Puerto Rico's government finally recognizes that denying marriage to LGBT people is harmful and cannot be justified. The marriage ban's sole purpose is to perpetuate discrimination, and it is just plain wrong," said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. "Same-sex couples, LGBT people, and their families are part of Puerto Rico's rich social and cultural fabric. Today's actions fulfill the constitutional promises of justice and fairness for LGBT people in Puerto Rico. Simply put, discrimination is never in Puerto Rico's best interests."
In Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel, represents four same-sex couples and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s in challenging Puerto Rico's law banning marriage for LGBT people. A fifth couple is represented separately. The lawsuit argues that barring LGBT people from marriage violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. A U.S. District Court judge granted Puerto Rico's motion to dismiss the lawsuit in October 2014, and Lambda Legal appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In January, Lambda Legal filed a brief urging the First Circuit to overturn the lower court ruling. The Commonwealth had until today to file its response.
Today's actions follow the U.S. Supreme Court's granting review of the marriage equality cases decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, including two Ohio cases. The Ohio cases are Henry v. Hodges, where Lambda Legal joined Gerhardstein & Branch, and Obergefell v. Hodges, where the ACLU joined Gerhardstein & Branch. Oral argument for the marriage cases will take place at the Supreme Court on April 28, 2015.
Lambda Legal attorneys Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Hayley Gorenberg, Karen Loewy and Jael Humphrey are handling the case, joined by co-counsel Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, as well as local counsel Celina Romany-Siaca. Ada Conde Vidal, who represents her wife, is represented by JosÃ© L. Nieto.
Read about the case here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/conde-v-rius-armendariz .
Read more about our plaintiff couples and their children here: www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20140625_puerto-rico-meet-the-families .
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.