US & Canada

Guam governor backs same-sex vote

Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero sued Guam to permit them to marry Image copyright AP
Image caption Loretta Pangelinan and Kathleen Aguero sued Guam to permit them to marry

The governor of Guam has backed a referendum on whether the Pacific island should become the first US territory to allow same-sex marriage.

The decision comes two days after a couple filed a lawsuit when they were denied a marriage licence application.

Governor Eddie Calvo has called for a referendum to finally decide the issue, which has sharply divided the public.

In 2009 the Guam legislature failed to pass a bill legalising civil unions between gay couples.

"Marriage is a fundamental right which cannot be denied based on gender," Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson said in a letter directing a government agency to process licences.

Legislation is pending for another US territory, Puerto Rico, which would overturn the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.