By: The Seattle Lesbian—
Friday, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Justice César 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.” [pullquote]“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.”—Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal[/pullquote]
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 Friday to file its response.
Friday’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 José L. Nieto.
Read about the case.
Read more about the plaintiff couples and their children.