HONOLULU — A lesbian couple is suing the state of Hawaii in federal court over the state’s denial of same-sex marriages.
Natasha N. Jackson and Janin Kleid 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, reported Hawaii News Now.
The couple tried to obtain a marriage license on Nov. 18, but the state Health Department denied them one because they are both women.
Hawaii’s civil unions law takes effect on Jan. 1 and allows same-sex and opposite-sex couples to enter into a civil union with the same state rights and responsibilities as a traditional marriage, but the couple claims that civil unions are an insufficient “substitute for marriage,” and that they’re being deprived a fundamental right.
Their attorney John D’Amato argues the state law reserving marriage to only heterosexual couples is discriminatory and violates the 14th amendment. He says it would not require another constitutional amendment to change the law.
“It would just require a judge to look at that law and say yeah plaintiffs you’re right it does violate your rights to due process and equal protection under the federal constitution,” said D’Amato. “The state’s denying Janin and Natasha the right to marry deprives them of a fundamental right and is unjustly discriminatory.”
D’Amato said that heterosexual couples can choose between marriage and civil unions, but believe they are being denied their due process and equal protection rights because gay and lesbian couples only have the option of civil unions.
In 1998, Hawaii voters passed a constitutional amendment keeping marriage between a man and a woman, but the couple said the U.S. constitution is on their side.