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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 19 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 38
Lambda Legal asks for summary judgment in Puerto Rico marriage suit
Section One
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Lambda Legal asks for summary judgment in Puerto Rico marriage suit

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Lambda Legal entered a motion for summary judgment on September 15 in a suit to overturn Puerto Rico's ban on same-sex marriages.

As a Commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Rico is internally self-governing, but is under the jurisdiction of U.S. federal courts, and the suit was filed in March in the U.S. District Court in San Juan. Lambda Legal entered the suit in June.

Summary judgment means that the court would rule that the ban on Gay and Lesbian marriages is discriminatory and unconstitutional on its face, without a need for further hearings.

The case, Conde v. Garcia Padilla, involves five same-sex couples and the organization Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.

'All families deserve to have their love and commitment recognized in Puerto Rico; they need the protections only marriage can provide as soon as possible, without discrimination,' Lambda Legal staff attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said in a statement.

'Every day that passes, our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender family members are told they are inferior to our other family members. They are living, working and caring for each other now and need the dignity and respect of marriage.'

Attorney Ada Mercedes Conde Vidal filed the original suit on March 25, on behalf of herself and her wife, Ivonne Álvarez Vélez. The couple had been legally married in Massachusetts in 2004, and wanted Puerto Rico to recognize their marriage. They have been together for 14 and have one daughter.

When Lambda Legal entered the case, they also brought additional plaintiffs:

o Iris Delia Rivera Rivera - a veteran of the National Guard deployed in the first Gulf War - and Maritza López Avilés have been together for 38 years and are parents of one daughter;

o José A. Torruellas Iglesias and Thomas J. Robinson have been together for 13 years and married in Toronto in 2007;

o Zulma Oliveras Vega and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro have been together for six years and are parents of one daughter;

o Johanne Vélez García and Faviola Meléndez Rodríguez have been together for six years and married in New York in 2012.

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 many members throughout the island.

Their suit argues that Puerto Rico's marriage ban unfairly discriminates against LGBT couples and sends a purposeful message that LGBT people and their children are second-class, undeserving of the legal protections, respect, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

The ban was enacted in 1999, but proposed amendments that would have enshrined it in the Commonwealth's constitution were defeated in 2008 and 2009.

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