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State lawmaker returns to court in fight against gay marriage

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With Hawaii poised to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses Monday, state Rep. Bob McDermott has filed a new motion in state Circuit Court looking to invalidate the state’s new law legalizing such marriages.

The motion asks Judge Karl Sakamoto to reconsider the significance of Hawaii’s 1998 constitutional amendment; McDermott argues that measure prevents the Legislature from expanding marriage to same-sex couples.

“This is a serious issue, and we have case law and precedent on our side,” McDermott said in a statement today announcing the motion. “We shall fully litigate this through the appeals process.”

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Jan. 13, according to McDermott.

The move comes after a Nov. 14 decision by Sakamoto refusing to issue a temporary restraining order sought by McDermott and a group of Christians looking to prevent the state from issuing licenses to gay couples. Sakamoto’s ruling came the day after Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the gay marriage bill into law.

At the Nov. 14 hearing, Sakamoto said McDermott and his fellow same-sex marriage opponents had standing to bring the lawsuit. He further said the plain meaning behind the vote for the 1998 constitutional ammendment was for the Legislature to reserve marriage to heterosexual couples.

However, Sakamoto also held that the 1998 vote did not restrict the Legislature’s separate authority — under Article III, Section 1 of the state Constitution — to enact laws that define marriage.

McDermott said today that the constitutional amendment does restrict that separate authority. “U.S. Supreme Court Law affirms that the will or intent of the people on a Constitutional Amendment, when reasonably inferred, supersedes and subordinate statutory language or committee reports,” McDermott’s news release said.

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