HAGATNA, Guam — A federal judge’s ruling has made Guam the first US territory to recognize gay marriage, leading the governor who opposed the weddings to declare that the island will accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples.
District Court Chief Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood issued the decision to a packed courtroom after a hearing Friday, saying the ban violated a gay couple’s constitutional rights to equal protection under the law.
The ruling goes into effect Tuesday morning, when same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses.
Governor Eddie Calvo previously said a decision was impractical when the Supreme Court was expected to rule on the issue this month. But he said after the District Court ruling that ‘‘I have a solemn duty to uphold the law.’’
About 80 percent of Guam residents are Catholic. Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron said in a statement that the ruling ‘‘is not only a defeat for Christian principles, but a defeat for our island and the whole of humanity.’’