On March 25, 2014, a same-sex couple filed a pro se complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The couple, legally married in another state, asked the District Court to enter an order ruling Article 68 of the Civil Code of Puerto Rico, 31 L.P.R.A. § 221, ...
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On March 25, 2014, a same-sex couple filed a pro se complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The couple, legally married in another state, asked the District Court to enter an order ruling Article 68 of the Civil Code of Puerto Rico, 31 L.P.R.A. § 221, unconstitutional. The law in question limits marriage to unions between one man and one woman. The plaintiffs argued it violates their rights to due process and equal protection in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
On July 25, 2014, the plaintiffs, now represented by counsel, filed an amended complaint adding four other same-sex couples and the organization Puerto Rico Para Tod@s to the litigation. Puerto Rico Para Tod@s is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of LGBT causes in Puerto Rico. Two of the couples joined were married in other states and sought to have their marriages recognized in Puerto Rico and two others sought to be married in Puerto Rico. The plaintiffs also sought the costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees related to the lawsuit.
On October 21, 2014, United States District Court (Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez) entered an order granting the defendants' 12(b)(6) motion, dismissing the case for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court ruled that it was bound by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972). In Baker, the Supreme Court issued a one-sentence opinion dismissing a case, "for want of a federal question." The case involved a same-sex couple in Minnesota that challenged Minnesota's prohibition on same-sex marriage. The Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion allowed that decision to stand. The District Court (Judge Pérez-Giménez) reasoned that this decision forbid it from considering the case for lack of jurisdiction.
On October 28, 2014, the plaintiffs filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
On July 8, 2014, the First Circuit vacated the district court ruling upholding the ban and sent it back to the district court for further consideration in light of Obergefell v. Hodges
, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015).
On March 8, 2016, the district court held that Obergefell did not incorporate the right for same-sex couples to marry against Puerto Rico through the Fourteenth Amendment or invalidate Article 68. The Court held that incorporation would require an express decision from the Supreme Court of the U.S., the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, Congress, or the Puerto Rico Legislature.
The plaintiffs then petitioned the First Circuit for the issuance of a writ of mandamus requiring the district court to deem the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The defendants moved to join the petition. The First Circuit granted both the petition and the motion in an opinion on April 7, 2016, ordering a clerk to enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. That same day, the district court ordered the marriage ban unconstitutional, and on April 11, 2016, it entered declaratory judgment.
On August 17, 2016, the district court approved the parties' private agreement regarding attorneys' fees.
The case is now closed. Thomas Topping - 03/02/2015
Sarah Precup - 03/20/2016
Virginia Weeks - 10/19/2016