American Samoa are ‘undecided’ as to whether they will comply with the June 26 ruling which legalized gay marriage in the US.
The US territory is now the only remaining part of the US to not begin implementing same-sex marriage rights for its 55,000 citizens. Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands have all voluntarily taken steps to allow same-sex marriage.
This leaves American Samoa as the only holdout, with the island territory’s attorney general Talauega Eleasalo Ale telling reporters on Friday: ‘We’re still reviewing the decision to determine its applicability to American Samoa.’
American Samoa retains some forms of self-governance, and its population are considered American ‘nationals’ – not citizens. An upcoming ruling will decide whether US territories must adhere to decisions made by the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who leads Samoa – a separate independent nation from American Samoa but exerts many societal and cultural influences over the US territory – has said same-sex marriage will ‘never be a part of Samoan culture and society’.
‘Just because it is being legalized everywhere else does not mean we should bow to the influence of the outside world,’ he told the Samoan Observer in 2012.
‘As long as I live and until kingdom comes, gay marriage will never be allowed in Samoa, never. Gay marriage contradicts everything Samoa stands for.’
Lambda Legal has asked any American Samoan same-sex couple who is denied a marriage license to contact them, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or the National Center for Lesbian Rights for assistance.
UPDATE: This article originally implied the Prime Minister of Samoa had a direct influence over American Samoa. This article has now been corrected and we apologize for any confusion caused.