Two women in Guam who have been a couple for 28 years were denied a marriage license by a bureaucrat who said he may sympathize with cause of equality but had to follow Guamanian law, reports the Associated Press.
Now Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero are now taking their desire to wed at home — on the island of Guam — to federal court. The couple's lawyer said the women are aware that the U.S. Supreme Court may decide the questions of marriage equality later this year.
"They want equality now, not later," the women's attorney, R. Todd Thompson, told the AP.
Thompson added that he is optimistic about the outcome of the case — hoping to build on the overwhelming legal precedent that has seen more than 60 state and federal courts rule in favor of marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark June 2013 decision in Windsor v. U.S., which struck down a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
The women plan to file a lawsuit against the Department of Public Health and Social Services' Office of Vital Statistics — where they were denied a marriage license — most likely in the U.S District Court of Guam. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over that court, and has previously ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.
The island of Guam is a U.S. territory and a strategic military asset in the Pacific Ocean, more than 3,700 miles southwest of Hawaii. Because Guamanian law restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples, many same-sex couples have flown to Hawaii and even to continental states on the West Coast rather than challenging the law on their home island.
But Pangelinan and Aguero say they won't leave the island because they want friends and family to be able to attend a planned ceremony sanctifying their nuptials.
While Guamanian officials have yet to weigh in on the law, political and legal leaders in Puerto Rico, the U.S.'s most populous island territory, recently stopped defending the local ban on same-sex marriage in a federal lawsuit.