Lambda Legal Urges First Circuit to Immediately Strike Down Marriage Bans in Puerto Rico

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June 26, 2015

(San Juan, PR, June 26, 2015) – Lambda Legal today called on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to act immediately to strike down the ban on marriage for LGBTT couples on the island in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling declaring marriage bans across the country unconstitutional. Lambda Legal appealed a lower court ruling dismissing the challenge to Puerto Rico’s discriminatory ban to the First Circuit, where it has been pending during the Supreme Court’s consideration.

“Let there be no question: Same-sex couples’ freedom to marry is guaranteed by our Constitution,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Attorney for Lambda Legal. “No longer can states and territories bar same-sex couples from marriage.  LGBTT couples in Puerto Rico should not have to wait any longer for the privileges, protections and security that marriage provides them and their families. We urge the First Circuit to act as expeditiously as possible to vindicate the unquestionable right to marry of LGBTT people in Puerto Rico.”

The Supreme Court today ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution, thereby invalidating all state statutes and constitutional amendments barring same-sex couples from marriage. Following the ruling, Lambda Legal quickly filed motions with the First Circuit seeking an immediate order striking down the Puerto Rico ban. In the case, Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz, Lambda Legal represents four couples living in the Commonwealth and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a leading advocacy organization for LGBT people and their families, with members throughout the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  A fifth couple is represented by co-counsel.

“If the First Circuit was awaiting direction from the Supreme Court, well now it has it,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.  “There is no reason for the First Circuit not to strike Puerto Rico’s marriage ban immediately and send Puerto Rico’s marriage ban into the ash heaps of history.”

Following today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, the Government of Puerto Rico joined Lambda Legal in the request for an immediate ruling from the First Circuit and announced that they would comply with the Supreme Court’s decision in a matter of weeks. 

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruled on six cases on review out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit: two Ohio cases, Obergefell v. Hodges, where the ACLU joined with Gerhardstein & Branch, and Henry v. Hodges, where Lambda Legal joined Gerhardstein & Branch; DeBoer v. Snyder, a Michigan case litigated by private counsel and GLAD; Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear, two Kentucky cases litigated by private counsel and the ACLU; and Tanco v. Haslam, a Tennessee case litigated by private counsel and NCLR.

Lambda Legal attorneys Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Hayley Gorenberg, and Karen Loewy are handling the case, joined by co-counsel Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Celina Romany-Siaca.  Ada Conde-Vidal, who is represented by José L. Nieto, represents her wife. 

Information on Conde-Vidal v. Rius-Armendariz, is available here:


Contact Info

Press contact: Tom Warnke, Cell: 213-841-4503: Email: Erik Roldan, Cell: 312-545-8140: Email: Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.