June 29, 2017 3:08 am Last modified: 5:04 pm

Mapp Signs Marriage Equality Executive Order; Measure Awaits James’ Action

Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp on Thursday signed an executive order bringing Virgin Island’s law into conformance with the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, Government House announced. The measure now awaits the signature of Senate President Neville James, who is acting lieutenant governor while Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter is out of the territory.

According to the statement from Government House, the lieutenant governor is required to "attest," or witness, the governor’s signature.

In the absence of Lt. Gov. Osbert E. Potter, the Senate president is next in the line of succession. Government House has been advised by James that he needs an opportunity to be advised on his duties as acting lieutenant governor before attesting to the governor’s signature.

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In a 5-4 decision handed down June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not discriminate against couples applying for wedding licenses based on their sexual preference. The decision put an end to the piecemeal, state-by-state fight over marriage equality, making the policy the law of the land.

Mapp announced June 30 the Virgin Islands law defining marriage as only a union between a man and woman was null and void, and promised to issue an executive order to the effect.

At his June 30 press conference, the governor said the ruling does not prevent religious groups or churches from practicing their beliefs.

“This ruling does not require any minister or person of faith to marry anyone they do not wish to marry or to change any religious documents in any way,” the governor said. “But the ruling does affect the behavior of civil society and, as governor of the Virgin Islands, I am responsible for the conduct and behavior of the public sector.”

“Accordingly I will be issuing an executive order which will set forth the parameters that will allow any and all legitimate marriage licenses in the nation to be recognized in the Virgin Islands.”

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