Hawaii Judge Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

UPDATED

A U.S. District Court judge in Honolulu has rejected arguments from two lesbians who said that Hawaii's 1998 ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

According to court documents released Wednesday, Judge Alan Kay dismissed the lawsuit, Jackson v. Abercrombie, saying that a decision like this should be left to the Legislature — not the courts.

Kay wrote:

If the traditional institution of marriage is to be restructured, as sought by Plaintiffs, it should be done by a democratically-elected legislature or the people through a constitutional amendment, not through judicial legislation that would inappropriately preempt democratic deliberation regarding whether or not to authorize same-sex marriage.

The complaint alleged that on Nov. 18, 2011, Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid were denied a marriage license by the state Department of Health because they were both women.

The complaint also alleges that Gary Bradley and his partner were the first male couple to obtain a civil union in Hawaii — the law was enacted Jan. 1 of this year — but chose not to apply for a marriage license because it would be "futile" to do so under state law.

The lawsuit put the Hawaii Attorney General's Office in the unusual position of both defending and supporting the lawsuit.

On one side, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he did not support the law because it was a denial of equal rights. On the other side, Health Director Loretta Fuddy denied many of the allegations and chose to defend the law.

The Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group, sided with Fuddy.

It is not known yet whether the three plaintiffs will appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hawaii has been at the forefront of same-sex marriage battle for two decades.

UPDATE

The governor Wednesday afternoon released the following statement in response to Judge Kay's ruling:

I respectfully disagree and will join the Plaintiffs if they appeal this decision. To refuse individuals the right to marry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is discrimination in light of our civil unions law. For me this is about fairness and equality.

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