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Hawaii judge rejects lawmaker’s bid to overturn state’s new gay marriage law

Thursday, November 14, 2013

HONOLULU — A Hawaii judge on Thursday ruled the state’s brand new gay marriage law is legal, despite a challenge saying voters thought they barred same-sex marriage 15 years ago in the state constitution.

Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto said the 1998 amendment didn’t force the Legislature to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Sakamoto says it doesn’t factor into lawmakers’ ability to allow gay couples to wed.

Bob McDermott

GOP state Rep. Bob McDermott, who filed a lawsuit to derail the special session, is seeking to have the marriage equality law overturned.

“Same-sex marriage in Hawaii is legal,” Sakamoto ruled after hearing arguments for more than an hour from the state attorney general and a Republican lawmaker who voted against the bill in the House last week.

The challenge brought by Rep. Bob McDermott was an attempt to block the state from enacting the new law, signed Wednesday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The measure allows the state health department to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples Dec. 2. Ceremonies can begin the same day.

McDermott’s challenge centered on language in the amendment that he said trumped lawmakers wanting to redefine marriage. The amendment reads: “The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.”

McDermott’s lawyer Jack Dwyer argued voters were told that phrasing meant they were voting against gay marriage.

“All you have to do is determine what the intent of the people was,” Dwyer said.

Attorney General David Louie argued lawmakers didn’t pass the law based on the merits of the constitutional amendment. He said they were simply doing their normal job of debating and enacting laws.

“The Legislature can change its mind at any time on any statute it wants,” Louie said.

Sakamoto agreed, saying that even if the language voters considered was unclear, lawmakers still have the right to make laws.

Dwyer said he and McDermott have not decided whether to appeal the case.

“All you can do is all you can do, and that’s what we tried to do today – we tried to give a voice to the people of Hawaii,” McDermott said. “We fell short, and I guess that’s my fault, but we did the best we can do.”

McDermott, like many other opponents of gay marriage and the special session used to pass the Hawaii law, said he thinks residents should be able to vote on gay marriage.

Gay marriage proponents have argued civil rights issues are rarely resolved with a majority vote of the people.

Hawaii’s law makes it the 15th U.S. state to allow gay marriage, along with the District of Columbia. The governor of Illinois is expected to sign a gay marriage bill into law there next week.

Hawaii’s law is expected to benefit thousands of gay couples in the state, and boost tourism to the islands as couples use the destination for gay weddings and honeymoons.

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25 more reader comments:

  1. Thanks God!

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:37pm
  2. What a loser..he needs to get a life..

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:37pm
  3. haha

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:38pm
  4. Yes what a loser.

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:38pm
  5. What’s he afraid of? Probably everything.

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:39pm
  6. He has the sadz

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:40pm
  7. He might be afraid his boyfriend will want to get married now

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:40pm
  8. Oh give it…

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:41pm
  9. Bless this man.

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:48pm
  10. good for him

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:48pm
  11. HA!

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:50pm
  12. suck it

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:53pm
  13. Sorry loser……lol

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:58pm
  14. Why are so many straight people afraid of the big bad gays of the world… are they afraid that well take over the world and turn it into the rainbow world.

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:24pm
  15. Dunno, maybe. Then again I do think the world could really use a few more rainbows.

    Replied on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 11:56pm
  16. @Robert & Thomas: I think you need to read title more carefully–he is upholding marriage equality law that a lawmaker wants to overturn. Or is the “He” in your posts about the lawmaker?

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:24pm
  17. His a hater

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:30pm
  18. Me thinks thou doest protest too much there big guy.

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 9:53pm
  19. What a douche bag!

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 10:50pm
  20. I wonder why he’s so hateful? Could be fear and self hate!

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 11:35pm
  21. Oh hey, this new bill has absolutely nothing to do with you. I know what you should do. Challenge it and claim it’s oppressing you’re religious freedoms or something also completely unrelated even though by doing so you’re going against the… I dunno the 14th amendment?

    Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 11:50pm
  22. Just another bigot

    Posted on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 12:01am
  23. whomp whomp whomp whooooooomp. go stick a pacifier in it.

    Posted on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 12:17am
  24. Haha too bad

    Posted on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 12:36am
  25. darn !

    Posted on Friday, November 15, 2013 at 2:15am