Puerto Rico amends laws to allow gay marriage

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Monday June 29, 2015 – Just hours after Friday’s US Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage, authorities in Puerto Rico rushed to approve legislation extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in the US island territory.

According to the Associated Press, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order requiring government agencies to become compliant with the ruling within 15 days. As a result, the island’s Health Department and other agencies are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses by early July.

All US Supreme Court rulings apply in Puerto Rico.

Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said he would accept and support the change, and praised the Supreme Court ruling as “a huge step in the quest for equal rights.”

“You cannot deny people the right to love,” he said.

It was not immediately clear whether the ruling also meant that gay couples in Puerto Rico could now adopt.

Thousands of supporters of the ruling, including those gathered outside the Capitol building in San Juan, celebrated the historic move, while religious leaders in the socially conservative island rejected it.

Monsignor Daniel Fernandez, Catholic bishop of Arecibo, said he would continue to protect the institution of marriage “as it is meant to be.”

“By nature, marriage exists and can only exist between a man and a woman,” he said.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican pop superstar Ricky Martin celebrated the ruling on Twitter, lauding the power of love.

The internationally acclaimed singer is known for his human-rights activism, and since he came out as gay in 2010 he has been a staunch advocate for the LGBT community.

Billboard reports that Martin heard the news of the ruling while on the island before traveling to Buenos Aires for a benefit concert.

“This ruling opens the path for a Puerto Rico that is free of discrimination and recognizes the right to love for all couples,” Martin said in a statement.

“I trust that this will be the first step to end discrimination of any kind and that we can all learn to recognize the right to equality.”

Martin called for religious conservatives to “put an end to homophobia which has characterized your public speech, and reflect on everyone’s right to live in a free and democratic society.

“Stop seeing with critical eyes and accept that the time has come to embark on a path toward greater understanding, tolerance, solidarity and acceptance,” he urged in the statement.

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