Hours after the Supreme Court ruled marriage equality was a constitutional right in America, Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, signed an executive order requiring government agencies to become compliant with the ruling within 15 days.
Health department officials in the country are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses by July.
Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda called Friday’s verdict “a huge step in the quest for equal rights. You cannot deny people the right to love.”
All U.S. Supreme Court rulings apply in Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory.
“It’s time to truly make Puerto Rico into a more fair and equal society, and not depend on decisions from the outside to achieve this,” said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for the group Heterosexuals in Favor of Equality.
Previous attempts by same-sex couples to marry had been rebuffed, but earlier this year the Justice Department announced it would no longer defend laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Pro-equality advocates gathered at the Capitol in San Juan to celebrate the victory, but not everyone was gladdened by the news
“By nature, marriage exists and can only exist between a man and a woman,” said Monsignor Daniel Fernandez, Catholic bishop of the northern city of Arecibo, but conceded. “I ask all of those who are people of faith like me to understand that no one is allowed to impose their religious beliefs on others.”
h/t: AP News