( San Juan, PR, July 8, 2015 ) — Today, in light of the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges which struck down marriage bans nationwide, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the district court's ruling in Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz, that had upheld Puerto Rico's discriminatory ban. The appellate court further directed the lower court to consider Lambda Legal's challenge to the ban in light of Obergefell.
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan issued the following statement:
"Today's decision provides further recognition of the dignity and equality of LGBT people in Puerto Rico. We applaud the First Circuit for recognizing that Puerto Rico's marriage ban is unconstitutional, and reversing the lower court ruling. We also commend the Puerto Rico government for joining in the call to end the marriage ban.
"Certainly, after the historic ruling from the Supreme Court, this ruling from the First Circuit was not unexpected. There remains no legal or moral justification for forcing same-sex couples in Puerto Rico to wait any longer to have their love and commitment recognized by the state.
"The Governor of Puerto Rico already signed an executive order on June 26 that marriages will begin 15 days after the Supreme Court ruling, but now that the First Circuit has agreed that the marriage ban is unconstitutional, same-sex couples should be able to marry now. To do otherwise is to put form over substance."
In the case, Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz, Lambda Legal represents Iris Delia Rivera Rivera— and Maritza LÃ"pez Avilés of Toa Alta; José A. Torruellas Iglesias and Thomas J. Robinson of San Juan; Zulma Oliveras Vega and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro of Carolina; and Johanne Vélez GarcÃa and Faviola Meléndez RodrÃguez of Guaynabo. The organizational plaintiff, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, is a leading advocate for LGBT people and their families in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, with members throughout the Commonwealth. A fifth couple is represented by co-counsel.
"This is a momentous victory for the LGBT community in Puerto Rico. Now, there is no doubt that people will be able to marry whom they love in Puerto Rico. Thanks to Lambda Legal, Ada Conde and Ivonne Alvarez and all the couples and lawyers who made this historic win possible. Puerto Rico Para Tod@s is proud to have been part of this monumental effort for justice and equality in our beloved homeland," added Pedro Julio Serrano, founder and president of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, Lambda Legal plaintiff.
Read the ruling here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/conde_pr_20150708_judgment .
Lambda Legal attorneys Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Hayley Gorenberg, and Karen Loewy are handling the case, joined by co-counsel Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Celina Romany-Siaca. Ada Conde-Vidal, who is represented by José L. Nieto, represents her wife.
Information on Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz, is available here: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/conde-v-rius-armendariz .