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Gay marriage decision could lead to change in Hawaii law

By Derrick DePledge

LAST UPDATED: 07:13 p.m. HST, Jun 26, 2013

Gay rights advocates will likely place increased pressure on Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the state Legislature to approve gay marriage in Hawaii after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that legally married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits.

Same-sex and heterosexual couples in Hawaii have the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as married couples under a state law passed two years ago.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 that gives the Legislature the power to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

But attitudes toward gay marriage appear to have shifted.

Abercrombie has refused to defend the state's marriage law in a federal court challenge brought by same-sex couples, although the state Department of Health is defending the law.

The governor also urged state lawmakers in a May speech before Oahu Democrats to support marriage equality.

"Although the Supreme Court did not directly require that same sex couples in other states be allowed to marry, I am encouraged by the fact that language in the Windsor ruling supports my position in the Hawaii lawsuit, which is currently pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In that lawsuit, I argue the Constitution's equal protection clause requires same sex marriage in all states, including Hawaii," Abercrombie said in a statement.

"I believe my position to support a constitutional right to same sex marriage in Hawaii and elsewhere was given a substantial boost by today's Supreme Court rulings. I will continue to work to assure justice and equality for all." 

The Supreme Court's decisions today will likely lead to a push to enact gay marriage during the next session of the Legislature.

Lawmakers approved a resolution last session asking a task force to study the social, economic and religious impacts of enacting marriage equality in Hawaii and to report back to the Legislature before the next session opens in January. The task force was also urged to examine the anticipated Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality.

"Great day for civil rights," Jo-Ann Adams, an attorney and gay rights activist, said in an email shortly after the court's decisions were announced.

"This is a huge victory for loving, married couples and their families across the country," Lois Perrin, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage said in a statement. "This high court ruling affirms that all committed couples who marry deserve equal legal respect and treatment."

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called the court's ruling striking down the provision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act that had denied legally married gay couples federal benefits "a victory for all Americans."

"Today's decision means that LGBT individuals across the country are given the same rights under federal law as every married couple, and equal treatment under the law," Schatz said in a statement. "Because of this decision, the federal government can no longer tell men and women who they can or cannot marry, and same-sex married couples can now enjoy the same federal benefits as the rest of us. I have always believed in marriage equality, and will continue to do everything in my power to help our LGBT friends and loved ones achieve equality."

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said it is "a historic day for civil rights and marriage equality."

"The marriage equality movement has come a long way, both in Hawaii and across the country. In 1998, I was part of a small group of Hawaii leaders who spoke out against an amendment to the Hawaii constitution that enabled legislation banning same-sex marriage," Hirono said in a statement.

"There are still many instances in our society where discrimination occurs — from our immigration system to workplaces across the country to states that still ban gay marriage. I will continue to join efforts to end these injustices and fight for equal treatment of all people under the law."

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, said Hawaii should approve marriage equality.

"It has been a historic day, but we still have work to do," Hanabusa  said in a statement. "It is time for Hawaii to join that growing chorus  of voices across our nation in proclaiming that we will not tolerate  discrimination in marriage.

"I am proud to have helped pass Hawaii's  civil unions law for the first time, which offered couples equal rights  under state law. That was the best we could do at the time, but now that  the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages, our state  should amend its laws, end discrimination in marriage, and make marriage  equality in Hawaii a reality. They can count on my support."

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, applauded the court's decision. "Ultimately, government should have no place in the most personal aspects of our lives," she said in a statement. "Until that day comes, all people must be treated equally under the law. The Supreme Court's ruling is welcome."

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mikethenovice wrote:
I don't care what the gays do. Just don't do the touching in public. Out of sight, out of mind mo betta.
on June 26,2013 | 08:38AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
why you gotta look, you nosy buggah? jus' MYOB.
on June 26,2013 | 11:56AM
aomohoa wrote:
on June 26,2013 | 05:11PM
pakeheat wrote:
Can't help it because they like to make a scene
on June 26,2013 | 10:04PM
IAmSane wrote:
Afraid of getting a bоner, huh? ᗡ:
on June 26,2013 | 09:54PM
8082062424 wrote:
Let the people of Hawaii vote on it.
on June 26,2013 | 08:59AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
Like the people in the South voted for Jim Crow laws. Good idea.
on June 26,2013 | 09:04AM
8082062424 wrote:
other states have put it on the ballots .you keep hearing people saying more support it fine put it to the people let all the people of Hawaii voice be heard
on June 26,2013 | 09:18AM
DanLBoom wrote:
Right ,Since we can't expect our elected officials to do the right thing.Let's all vote on it !! But you know that will never happen. I'm OK with benefits the and Civil Union name and all of that, Just don't call marriage. Imua !!!
on June 26,2013 | 09:30AM
Ewaduffer wrote:
Exactly, and word the initiative clearly, concisely and to the point. No namby pamby mumbo jumbo wording like some past voter initiatives (Rail) we have seen on the ballot.
on June 26,2013 | 09:34AM
makule1957 wrote:
Amen, I agree.
on June 26,2013 | 06:12PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
The issue has been settled by the SC already, all that's left is to change Hawaii law, including the constitutional amendment that Hanabusa pushed thru when she was senate president defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Notice how she has flip flopped on this and now supports gay marriage. Kinda like how Gabbard did when she chose to run for congress. Hanabusa and Gabbard lack the conviction of their beliefs, both railed against gay marriage previously, now it appears they're all for it.
on June 26,2013 | 07:15PM
QueSeraSera wrote:
I'm glad both are now in support of marriage equality. Everyday more people's views evolve on this issue & I think that's a good thing.
on June 26,2013 | 08:39PM
QueSeraSera wrote:
I'm glad both now support marriage equality & both signed the letter urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn DOMA back in March. Everyday more people's views evolve on this issue & that is a good thing.
on June 26,2013 | 08:46PM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
I'm glad for this. "Separate but equal" still means discrimination, and our nation - particularly Hawaii, the land of aloha - is much better than that.
on June 26,2013 | 09:03AM
QueSeraSera wrote:
on June 26,2013 | 08:34PM
cfurukawa wrote:
Civil unions are fine. This is not about discrimination. The federal government now dictates what each state can or cannot do. The local voters overwhelmingly voted to define marriage is between a man and a woman, but all the politicians seem to disagree with their constiuents. They (the politicians) even go so far that they won't even defend the law that the voters voterd for. I guess we know who is really in charge.
on June 26,2013 | 09:22AM
QueSeraSera wrote:
This ruling doesn't take away the state's right to make their own decisions. It's a win for marriage equality, though there's more to be done
on June 26,2013 | 08:37PM
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, applauded the court's decision. "Ultimately, government should have no place in the most personal aspects of our lives," she said in a statement. "Until that day comes, all people must be treated equally under the law. The Supreme Court's ruling is welcome." But where is the comment of MIKE Gabbard who as demonize the gay and lesbian community of Hawaii for 25 years ? Its is of public record that Mike Gabbard accepted $600,000 from the Hawaii Mormon church (HOW MUCH OF THAT $$ went right in his pocket ...and in the pockets of the anti gay cult he belong to ? tMike Gabbard distributed litteratures and videos demonizing the gay community to all the fundamentalist church of Hawaii . He is a living scandal that must be remove from politic ASAP He should give attention to his son BHAKTI who is still in the LAS VEGAS jail for the 5th times in 2013. Mike Gabbard is the worst politician in Hawaii when it come to understanting love and compassion for all communities This shameless man as never apologise
on June 26,2013 | 04:11PM
koolauside wrote:
The reality is that the vote in 1998 reflects an outdated period in our history. Since then, we have all come to understand the extent that there are gay people throughout our lives, whether they are family members, coworkers, friends, colleagues, etc. What we have learned since then is that gay people are just as real as anyone else, and we have learned that all people deserve the right to marry the person they love, even if that person happens to be of the same gender.
on June 26,2013 | 04:15PM
koolauside wrote:
We have also learned that one man has single handedly done more damage to the state economy than anyone else. That man (for lack of a better term), Mike Gabbard, by leading the charge against marriage equality, stole from Hawaii the ability to have a honeymoon industry for the last 15 years. The money that would have come to this state through that industry would have affected every single one of us for the better.
on June 26,2013 | 04:18PM
Anonymous wrote:
that such a stretch is sad. Hawaii is not the most gay friendly place. not to mention we have a lot of family's that vacation here. and Waikiki beach is a small area. good luck on that tall tale
on June 26,2013 | 05:36PM
Anonymous wrote:
then it time to put it on the ballot . let all the voters of Hawaii have a say. if Hawaii voters say ok then it happens
on June 26,2013 | 05:38PM
makule1957 wrote:
I thought when they asked for civil union, they said they weren't asking for marriage?
on June 26,2013 | 06:12PM
koolauside wrote:
you weren't paying attention.
on June 26,2013 | 07:14PM
cshaffer wrote:
Now its high time for the High Court to throw out the unconstitutional laws on medical and recreational marijuana use
on June 26,2013 | 07:43PM
engineersoldier wrote:
We're already pretty popular with the gay community, many ignorant and bigoted folks here notwithstanding. If our leaders had any vision and savvy, we would be promoting this to that community.
on June 26,2013 | 07:48PM
pakeheat wrote:
Stop the name calling and show some class and repect
on June 26,2013 | 10:07PM
mreduardo wrote:
People already voted! They said ONLY THE LEGISLATURE SHALL HAVE THE POWER to define marriage. This means the legislature can define marriage. Don't know why you want another vote, when it was already voted on...That was 1998 when the Constitution was changed to reflect the above - the people entrusted only their legislature to define marriage. Look it up.
on June 27,2013 | 06:58AM
false wrote:
it is very important to vote for right officers during election day, now you already know who you will vote for next election
on October 26,2013 | 08:30PM
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