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Hawaii judge rejects lawmaker’s attempt to overturn marriage equality law

Friday, January 31, 2014
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HONOLULU — A state judge in Hawaii has thrown out a lawmaker’s challenge to the state’s new marriage equality law, declaring that the law that took effect in December is constitutional.

GOP state Rep. Bob McDermott is seeking to have Hawaii's marriage equality law overturned.

GOP state Rep. Bob McDermott is seeking to have Hawaii’s marriage equality law overturned.

First Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled Wednesday that the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 is constitutional under both the state and federal constitutions, reported Big Island Now.

Sakamoto had previously declined state Rep. Bob McDermott’s requests for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to block the law.

McDermott’s challenge centered on language in the 1998 constitutional 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.”

Sakamoto said the amendment didn’t force the Legislature to define marriage as between a man and a woman, it merely granted them the power to do so.

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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’s ruling Wednesday was in response to a motion filed by Louie for a summary judgment.

Louie said the ruling “unequivocally affirmed the right of people to marry the person they love without regard to gender.”

Since the law went into effect on Dec. 2, more than 670 same-sex couples have been married and another 230 have requested licenses.

McDermott has said he intends to appeal the ruling.

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