Recognition of same-sex unions in Guam
|Legal status of
*Not yet in effect
Guam, an overseas territory of the United States, recognizes no legal same-sex relationship, neither same-sex marriage nor civil union. The Guam Organic Act of 1950, the equivalent of a constitution, does not mention marriage. Guam's statutes do not specify gender but assume the parties to a marriage are a man and a woman.
Guam's statutes do not specify the sex of the parties, but their prohibition on marriage "between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews" show they anticipate only different-sex marriages. The parties "must declare in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage that they take each other as husband and wife." With respect to marriages from other jurisdictions, the statues say:
All marriages contracted outside of the territory of Guam, which would be valid by the laws of the country in which the same were contracted, are valid in the territory of Guam.
Federal courts in Guam are subject to the precedents set in 2014 by the decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Latta v. Otter and Sevcik v. Sandoval, which found Nevada's and Utah's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples unconstitutional.
After Vermont enacted same-sex marriage legislation, the 27th Guam Youth Congress, an advisory body which submits legislation to committees of the Legislature of Guam, forwarded a bill to legalize civil unions to the legislature, with the bill being supported by Speaker Derick Baza Hills.
A similar measure failed in the 25th Guam Youth Congress by just one vote. Citing recent rulings in the courts such as the unanimous decision overturning the ban on same-sex marriage in Iowa, Hills later commented that the courts would be essential to make sure we "allow for equal rights" he stated in a press release. While same-sex marriage is currently not being considered in Guam, Hills made sure to point out that "We do have advocates in the Legislature [who support same-sex civil unions] ... I do feel and know that there are senators comfortable supporting this legislation," Hills said. Hills called on the Legislature of Guam to introduce legislation to create such unions, though the extent of rights to be granted is unknown.
On June 3, 2009, Vice-Speaker BJ Cruz introduced Bill No. 138, which would establish same-sex civil unions containing all the rights and benefits of civil marriage in Guam. The bill was heavily condemned by the Catholic Church. The bill did not get sufficient votes to make it to the session floor.
Due to opposition to the bill within the religious community, Bill 212 was introduced by proponents of same-sex unions should the civil union bill fail to pass. The bill mirrors the bill passed in Hawaii that provided significantly limited rights. The bill is known as a "Designated Beneficiary Agreement," and unlike the civil union bill, would be open for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
In a 2009 poll conducted by Pacific Daily News, 26% of Guamanians supported same-sex marriage, 27% supported same-sex domestic partnerships or civil unions, and 29% of responders said that there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Guam.
- "Chapter 3. The Contract of Marriage". Guam Code Annotated. Compiler of Laws, Supreme Court of Guam. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
- Lee, Yvonne S. (10 April 2009). "Youth congress pass bill to legalize same sex civil unions". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved 2009-04-23.[dead link]
- Same-sex civil unions proposed
- "Archbishop Apuron Responds To Senator Cruz's Same Sex Civil Union Bill".
- Aguon, Mindy (February 24, 2011). "Gay community hopeful for Guam civil unions". Kuam News. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- www.guampdn.com/survey-26-percent-support-same-sex-marriage[dead link]