Attorney Bill Pesch says the US Supreme Court has previously ruled fundamental rights cannot be subject to a vote.
Guam – The battle for same-sex marriage is not over yet, despite what some might consider a victory yesterday when the Attorney General issued an opinion in favor of it. The Governor’s Office won’t allow it–at least for now and they suggest the matter could be voted on through a referendum. But Attorney Bill Pesch says a referendum is illegal.
Attorney Bill Pesch is one of the attorneys who represents same-sex couple Kathleen Aguero and Loretta Pangelinan in a lawsuit filed in District Court alleging violation of constitutional rights when they were denied the right to marry last week. Pesch tells us he’s disappointed that the Governor’s Office has not heeded the advice of the AG on approving same-sex marriage.
“He seems to be back peddling a little bit here,” says Pesch. “First of all, the governor said that, a couple days ago, that he had to wait to make any type of decision on the matter until he had met with Guam’s highest legal official, the attorney general.”
The governor’s office yesterday released a statement saying that Governor Eddie Calvo’s legal team out of Adelup is still reviewing the matter and until they issue a decision, the Department of Public Health will continue to refuse same-sex marriage license applications.
“And his top legal expert, the attorney general, has spoken on the matter. I wish he would take her advice,” Pesch says.
The governor’s statement also alluded to a referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage. But Pesch takes issue with this suggestion, calling it “very inappropriate.” He says the US Supreme Court has previously ruled this illegal.
“Here’s the key sentence,” notes Pesch, reading directly from one of the opinions previously issued by the US Supreme Court, “fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote. They depend on the outcome of no elections.”
“In other words, yes, there are times when society wants certain things or believes in certain things, but that doesn’t mean that society should get what it wants. For instance, slavery. You had individual states, and unfortunately if we allowed each state to decide whether slavery was okay, who knows, today we may still have states that would allow slavery,” he points out, adding, “People who want to marry in mixed races; there are would be a number of states where they would not be able to get married. And so if you have, let’s say, interracial marriage that’s allowed in one state, but not allowed in another state … you’re gonna have a family in one state and then not a family in another state because it isn’t recognized. You just can’t have that when it comes to fundamental rights.”
Governor Eddie Calvo left island yesterday to San Francisco to meet with officials from Region 9 Health and Human Services, as well as officials from USEPA and the Office of Economic Adjustment. It’s not clear at this point how soon we can expect a decision from his office. In the meantime, Pesch says they will continue to press forward with the lawsuit in District Court.