Puerto Rico’s ban on same-sex marriage remains in place after a federal judge dismissed a challenge to the ban Tuesday, saying the U.S. Supreme Court established a precedent four decades ago.
U.S. District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez said in his decision that by dismissing an appeal in Baker vs. Nelson, a 1971 case in which two men sought to marry in Minnesota, the Supreme Court bound all lower courts to assume bans on same-sex marriage do not violate the Constitution. The high court could choose to overrule itself but has not, he said.
Pérez-Giménez went on to say that legalizing same-sex marriage would open the door to challenges that could legalize polygamous and incestuous marriages. “Ultimately,” he wrote, “the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.”
He dismissed the challenge with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be refiled.
Puerto Rico, a United States territory, is bound by U.S. law.
Early this month, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from five states whose bans against same-sex marriage had been struck down by lower courts. That signaled that such marriages could soon be legal across the country but did not set legal precedent. Bans then crumbled in several other states.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
FOR THE RECORD
Oct. 21, 8:32 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that as of Friday, same-sex marriage was legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia. In fact, court rulings had only paved the way for same-sex marriage to become legal in that many states.
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