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2 Honolulu women suing state for the right to marry

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 7:44 p.m. HST, Dec 8, 2011

Two Honolulu women are suing Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the state health director in federal court over the state's denial of same-sex marriages.

Natasha N. Jackson and Janin Kleid said in their lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday that they tried to get a marriage license on Nov. 18 but the state Health Department denied them one because they are both women. They claim that the state's refusal to issue them a marriage license violates their due process and equal protection rights guaranteed them by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

John J. D'Amato is one of their lawyers.

"Our clients want to marry. They want the state to tell us why they can't marry. The want the state to tell us what is it about being two women prevents them from marrying," D'Amato said.

Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Delacruz said the state has no comment on the lawsuit because it hasn't seen it. She said the Health Department is gearing up for the state's civil unions law which Abercrombie approved in February and which takes effect Jan. 1.

The law allows a couple -- same-sex or heterosexual -- to enter into a civil union, a legal status that provides all the rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities provided under state law as traditional marriage.

Same-sex marriages are not allowed under state law.

Hawaii voters in 1998 ratified a constitutional amendment giving the legislature "the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples."

State lawmakers had already approved such a law the previous year.

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