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HRC Associate Director of Online Mobilization & Social Media James Servino submitted the following op-ed to Guam Pacific Daily News, making the case for marriage equality on Guam.

The federal government recognizes them.

The U.S. military does.

But according to the Guam government, legally married same-sex couples are not recognized by the island’s government. In fact right now, Governor Calvo is standing in the way of marriage equality. For loving, committed same-sex couples stationed in Guam for the United States military, the legal welcome mat is pulled away once they step off Andersen or Naval Base Guam.

Recently, a distinguished group of former military officials filed an amicus brief in the upcoming Obergefell v. Hodges case that argues in support of nationwide legal marriage equality for same-sex couples. The former military officials argue that the patchwork of marriage laws around the country hurts military families and threatens national security.

Lance Buchanan is legally married to Kyle, a Navy Lieutenant stationed at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam. They married in October 2014 in Washington D.C. prior to being re-stationed on Guam.

Lance says, “While my husband and I were fortunate to be married in a pro-equality state before being stationed here on Guam, many loving, committed same-sex couples do not have the ability to travel around the world or to the mainland USA. The stark reality is that once we leave Naval Base Guam, our full-legal marriage is demoted and we’re legal strangers in the eyes of Guam’s government. By extending full marriage equality right now to loving, committed same-sex couples: permanent residents, tourists and extended guests, like us, can feel at home here like we do in other parts of the country and certainly while we serve as a part of America’s wider military community. One of the biggest things we have taken from the people of Guam is the deep sense of welcome and family. Marriage equality makes sense for Guam!"

My parents, Barbara Perez Servino and my late father George Santos Servino, moved from Guam to California where they raised a family. My older brother, George Perez Servino, Jr. is honored on Guam’s Purple Heart monument and memorial in Skinner Plaza. 

​My mom, Barbara says, “I have four kids and they were all difficult or life-threatening pregnancies. Two girls and two boys. Of my sons, I have one who happens to be straight and one who is gay. I am Catholic and go to mass nearly everySunday. My aunts and uncles are nuns and priests. Many of them taught in the schools on Guam. I was raised to love my kids, like God loves us--unconditionally. As a Catholic and a Chamorro, this is a family issue. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops themselves in their pastoral letter “Always Our Children” calls on Christians to stand against any form of discrimination. As a mother of an Army soldier who risks his life for this country, I am proud of his service and his support for his gay brother. My Army son is fighting for our country and he believes in the American (and Guamanian) core value of equality. Guam should stand on the right side of history and extend marriage equality to loving, committed same-sex couples right now. We already have open service for gay and lesbian military servicemembers. Shouldn’t they be treated equally by our island? Guam is where America’s Day Begins. We welcome people from across the world. All people whether they are LGBT or straight should be welcomed.”

My mom echoes exactly what I learned in Catholic school and at the Jesuit-Catholic school I attended, Santa Clara University. Here’s a direct quote from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ letter “Always Our Children”: 

“The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them (cf. The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986, no. 10). It is not sufficient only to avoid unjust discrimination. Homosexual persons "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).”

The time is now for marriage equality on Guam. The Ninth Circuit has already ruled. Guam’s Attorney General has already directed Guam’s government to abide by the legal decision of the Ninth Circuit. The longstanding leaders of the legislature are standing up for equality. Chamorros and Guamanians on island and off are standing up. The eyes of the country and the island are watching and waiting for the Governor to stand up for equality today. Guam can lead right now by extending marriage equality. Let’s stand on the right side of history, before it’s too late.

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