Guam on Wednesday became the first U.S. territory to allow gay marriage after its attorney general directed officials to immediately begin processing same-sex-marriage applications.
Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson's instructions came two days after a lesbian couple filed a legal challenge to the territory's marriage laws after they were barred from submitting an application for a license to wed.
Barrett-Anderson cited a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision as the basis for her directive. The appeals court in October found state bans on gay marriage were unconstitutional.
Barrett-Anderson said the Department of Public Health and Social Services should treat "all same gender marriage applicants with dignity and equality under the Constitution."
Guam is the first of five U.S. Pacific and Caribbean territories to allow gay marriage.
A lawsuit challenging Puerto Rico's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is pending before a federal appeals court in Boston. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday it would await the Supreme Court's decision on the issue before scheduling oral arguments in the Puerto Rico case.
Puerto Rico's Justice Department previously has defended the law in court, but Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said last month that the department would no longer do so.
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