Chanting “Let the people decide!”, dozens of opponents of gay marriage held a news conference at the state Capitol today urging state lawmakers to put the issue before voters through a constitutional amendment.
The state House and Senate have been called back by Gov. Neil Abercrombie for a special session this month to debate a gay marriage bill. The governor called the session in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that legally married gay couples are entitled to federal benefits.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 that gave the Legislature the power to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. The state Attorney General’s Office and several constitutional scholars believe the Legislature has the power to change that definition, but many opponents of gay marriage think voters should be given the choice.
“Don’t take our choice to preserve traditional marriage as a unique social institution out of the law unless you ask us,” said James Hochberg, an attorney and president of Hawaii Family Advocates. “If we say ‘yes,’ fine. If we say ‘no,’ no.”