Atheist conducts Puerto Rico’s first gay marriage

Atheist conducts Puerto Rico’s first gay marriage

Last October, a federal trial judge in San Juan upheld Puerto Rico’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

But all that changed when US Supreme Court judges legalised gay marriage this summer, and Puerto Rico – an American territory – was compelled to scrap the ban.

And on July 17 authors Yolanda Arroyo-Pizarro and Zulma Olivera-Vega, above, made Puerto Rican history when they were joined in matrimony at a secular ceremony conducted by Luis R Ramos. It was attended by 150 family members and guests.


Ramos, above, is Vice-President of Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico (Secular Humanists of Puerto Rico), which will be hosting the island’s first ever atheist convention in August.

Ramos, a lifelong atheist and humanist, said:

Religious dogma and bigotry are very strong in Puerto Rico. After the SCOTUS decision many Christians clergy said they will not be forced to marry gay couples. Some even said that they will tear apart celebrants’ certificates in an act of protest.

Since its foundation on 2011, Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico members have strongly supported the LGBT community

Ramos explained that the group supports the gay community because it exists to promote human rights and to oppose religious bigotry which had led to discrimination on the island.

Last year, in anticipation of a favourable SCOTUS decision, Humanistas Seculares began preparing to offer secular wedding services for the gay community and other atheists and non-believing couples.

The group said:

Many couples feel that a wedding in front of a government judge is too bland and offers no space for a really exciting celebration. So we decided to obtain our secular wedding celebrant certificates.

After the SCOTUS decision, the group received an enormous number of wedding celebration requests, and said it was happy to help the atheist, agnostic, LGBT community and all citizens to have access to non-religious weddings, despite “tantrums” and opposition  from the religious majority.

The group is now preparing to conduct a mass same-sex wedding ceremony on the island in August.

While the law may have changed, anti-gay attitudes still have to be overcome. Tight security measures marked the marriage of the lesbian couple at a local French Restaurant, Art D’Çhocolat. Security personnel were in attendance and the windows were protected from vandalism using storm shutters.

Ada Conde, an attorney, activist and President of the Human Rights Foundation of Puerto Rico, was the wedding maid of honour.

Conde and Ivone Alvarez became the first Puerto Rican lesbian couple to marry 10 years ago. They did so in Massachussets when the state’s same-sex marriage law took effect, and last year they lodged a federal appeal against the island’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, Puerto Rico was in the news when police conducted a “faith” blitz on motorists.

• Intro image courtesy of

12 responses to “Atheist conducts Puerto Rico’s first gay marriage”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Anti-gay bigot Wanda Rolon (yes – I know!) is originally from Puerto Rico. This is hilarious and disturbing at the same time:

    I am not going to make any comment about Latin-American people for fear of being labelled “racist”, but I wonder what lies ahead for Cuba now.

  2. Barry Duke says:

    Here is your answer, BarrieJohn. Fidel Castro regrets persecuting gays, and it looks like things are on the up in Cuba.

  3. barriejohn says:

    Barry: I know that, but I’m sure that American evangelicals are straining at the leash to get to work on the poor, lost souls of Cuba. After all, they have that “god-shaped void” in their hearts, don’t they?

  4. dennis says:

    the Cubans think they have had it bad under Castro wait till the proselytizing really starts. as I heard the other day christianity is already on the rise or they are becoming more vocal after the thaw in relations with the states. can we flood the island with a copy of the “god delusion” by Mr Dawkins for every bible that is their already or about to be sent?

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    “After the SCOTUS decision many Christians clergy said they will not be forced to marry gay couples.” Does Mr. Ramos suggest Christians clergy should be forced to marry gay couples? This atheist would not agree.

  6. Peterat says:

    The SCOTUS decision was quite clear about gay marriage and making no requirement of religious institutions to conduct them or recognize them. It stated that the individual states could not refuse to conduct civil ceremonies for gay couples. There is no compulsion for religious institutions to recognize or facilitate the practice.

  7. Marcus says:

    I, for one, am absolutely set against putting pressure on religious institutions to conduct ceremonies that go against their ethos.

    A far better tactic, as Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico have shown, is to woo people away from tedious religious ceremonies by providing joyful, secular alternatives which can apply equally to weddings and funerals.

    This would also serve to weaken the churches by diverting money away from them.

  8. barriejohn says:

    I have been totally gobsmacked over the years at the completely irreligious people of my acquaintance who have insisted upon a church wedding. This is almost always for purely sentimental reasons, and the religiots are obviously gullible (well – they must be to believe the nonsense that they do, mustn’t they?) if they think that they are having any influence upon the majority of those who pitch up for baptisms, weddings and funerals. However, they continue to kid themselves that the hoi polloi are there out of deep conviction, despite whatever drunken antics may follow the ceremonies. One thing that really amused me was the fact that the Brethren with whom I was associated were really keen to erect a building so that, amongst other things, “our young people will have somewhere to get married”, yet when the rather outspoken and wilful daughter of one longstanding member was getting hitched she announced to one and all: “You don’t think I want to get married in THAT place, do you?”

  9. 1859 says:

    Yea! Yea! Go Puerto Rico Go! Go! Go!
    Congratulations! It’s one small step for gay people, it’s one giant leap for mankind!

  10. Laura Roberts says:

    @Trevor: I’m not sure how you could read Mr. Ramos’s comment that way. It seems clear to me that he was simply paraphrasing local clergy who were saying, in effect, “You can’t make me”. Let’s not take their straw-man bait.

    As the good folks at Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico recognized, gay marriage provides an excellent opportunity for us to foster goodwill. If we can wean a few people away from harmful ideologies at the same time, so much the better.

  11. Cali Ron says:

    @Trevor Blake: The SCOTUS ruling has no bearing on churches. It’s a legal issue, marriage definition. The church can still refuse to marry anyone they want. The States however must honor the ruling and issue marriage licenses to same sex partners. I’m sure most religions will continue to persecute LBGT people and refuse them religious marriage services. Why any LBGT person would want to be married in a church that hates them and persecutes them is beyond me. The fight has always been a legal one and all the religious excuses against it are and were irrelevant.