Marriage Equality USA

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Puerto Rico
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Current Status


  • Same-sex marriage became illegal on 19 March 1999, when H.B. 1013 was signed into law. The law defined marriage as "a civil contract whereby a man and a woman mutually agree to become husband and wife."
  • Pedro Rossello, the former governor of Puerto Rico and a staunch conservative, who, when he was in office, signed the law that prohibited same-sex couples in PR from marrying, publicly expressed his unconditional support for same-sex marriage in February 2013.
  • Following the 2013 SCOTUS ruling in United States v. Windsor, both the IRS and the Department of Labor (DOL) wrote that for their purposes the term "spouse" refers to any individual who is lawfully married under any state law, including individuals married to a person of the same sex who were legally married in a state that recognizes such marriages, but who are domiciled in a state that does not recognize such marriages. This applies to Puerto Rico.
  • Current Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla is pro-LGBTQ rights. Gov. Padilla signed a bill that bans employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, and he included same-sex couples in a domestic-violence law.

Legislation - Pending


Legislation - Enacted

H.B. 1013

Author/Sponsor: Unknown
Date Introduced: Unknown
Date Enacted: 19 March 1999


  • Defines marriage as "a civil contract whereby a man and a woman mutually agree to become husband and wife."

Lawsuits - Pending


Lawsuits - Resolved

Lopez-Aviles v. Rius-Armendariz (formerly Conde-Vidal v. Garcia-Padilla)

Case #: 14-2184 (1st Circuit)3:14-cv-01253 (Federal District Court)
Court Level:  1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: 25 March 2014
Date of Ruling: 8 July 2015


  • A gay couple legally married in Massachusetts but residing in Puerto Rico, filed a complaint against two commonwealth officials, the secretary of health and the registrar of vital statistics to have their out-of-state marriage recognized.
  • Article 68 of Puerto Rico's Civil Code (31 L.P.R.A. § 221) only recognizes opposite-sex marriage, i.e. "a civil contract whereby a man and a woman mutually agree to become husband and wife." Plaintiffs claim that this marriage law "is unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment."
  • 18 July 2014, the defendants filed a motion for an extension of time to respond to the complaint.
  • 21 July 2014, the plaintiffs’ filed a Partial Opposition to the defendants’ Motion for an Extension of Time, saying, "Plaintiffs do not oppose a reasonable extension to accommodate Defendants, but the requested extension is excessive given the ongoing harm to Plaintiffs, which accrues and deepens each day."
  • 28 August 2014, Motion to Intervene filed by Sonimar Lozada-Rodriguez on behalf of Capellanes Internacionales Cristianos Leon de Juda, Inc. (Christian Chaplains' organization).
  • 28 August 2014, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case.
  • 15 September 2014, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgement with exhibits. They also filed a memo in support of that motion. Additionally, they filed their opposition to the defendants' August motion to dismiss. 
  • 22 September 2014, the plaintiffs' filed their opposition to intervention by Capellanes Internacionales Cristianos Leon de Juda, Inc. 
  • 9 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed their objections to Proposed Intervenors' request to file a reply in support of its motion to intervene and a Notice of Supplemental Authority.
  • 16 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed their opposition to the defendants' motion to deny or hold plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.
  • 16 October 2014, the defendants' filed a request to file a reply brief brief in support of their motion to dismiss, and their reply
  • 17 October 2014, U.S. District Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez denied the motion to intervene by the Christian chaplains group Capellanes Internacionales Cristianos Leon de Juda, Inc. 
  • 17 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion to file a sur-reply. 
  • 21 October 2014, an Opinion and Order were issued granting the defendants' motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim - Judgement dismissing claims with prejudice. 
  • 21 October 2014, Lamda Legal issued a press release saying they will appeal: "We will, of course, appeal this ruling to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals," [Lambda Legal attorney] Gonzalez-Pagan said. "All families in Puerto Rico need the protections of marriage." 
  • 21 October 2014, Puerto Rico ban on same-sex marriage upheld, per Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog. 
  • 28 October 2014, on behalf of the plaintiffs, Lambda Legal filed a Notice of Appeal with the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 16 December 2014, the Appellants' Briefing Notice was issued. Their opening brief and appendix are due 26 January 2015. NOTE: The name of the case is now Lopez-Aviles v. Rius-Armendariz.
  • 26 January 2015, the plaintiffs filed their Opening Brief.    
  • 27 January 2015,  Appeals court asked to overturn Puerto Rico marriage ruling - By Michael K. Lavers, Washington Blade
  • February 2015, a collection of Amicus Briefs in support of plaintiffs.
  • 20 March 2015, it was announced in a press conference that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has changed its position and has decided to no longer defend the marriage ban. In a brief filed by the Defendant/Appellees, the government concedes that the Supreme Court's grant of cert in the marriage cases clearly means that Baker's claim that there is a "lack of a substantial federal question" is no longer good law. Further, the government says that (1) the equal protection claim must be subjected to some form of heightened scrutiny, (2) the law's burden on couples' right to marry means the law must withstand strict scrutiny under the due process claim, and (3) the law cannot withstand constitutional challenge under these standards. Read excerpts from the brief.
  • 14 April 2015, Elected officials - 8 Senators and 5 Representatives - ask to intervene in this case for purposes of defending the Puerto Rico's marriage ban.
  • 24 April 2015, the Defendants-Appellees filed their Opposition to Puerto Rico Senators' and Representatives' motion to intervene.
  • 27 April 2015, the plaintiffs filed their Opposition to elected officials intervening in the appeal for purposes of defending the ban.
  • 17 June 2015, First Circuit denies motion to intervene filed by members of the Puerto Rico Legislature.
  • 8 July 2015, First Circuit issued Judgment and Mandate, vacating the lower court judgment that upheld Puerto Rico's marriage ban and referring the case back to the lower court to take action consistent with the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell.
  • 15 July 2015, parties filed a Joint Motion for Entry of Judgment.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending


Ballot Initiatives - Passed