A group of same-sex couples are suing the state of Hawaii, alleging violations of constitutional rights in the wake of Governor Linda Lingle’s veto of civil unions bill that would have given same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
The complaint filed in circuit court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and Lambda Legal argues that the state violates the constitution by denying same sex couples the rights and protections currently available to heterosexual couples through marriage.
“It’s tragic that something needed so badly by so many Hawaii families was derailed with a stroke of the governor’s pen,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, Lambda Legal Senior Counsel.
“We had hoped we’d never have to file this lawsuit but the political process has failed the thousands of families who need the protections civil unions would have provided. Every Hawaii family should be treated equally under the law, but because the state refuses to do that, we’re forced to go to the courts.”
The complaint argues that the state violates its own constitution by denying same-sex couples important rights and protections readily available to heterosexual couples through marriage.
The bill, approved by the state Legislature in late April, would have granted gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.
Lingle called the issue too emotional and too important to be decided solely by the governor or the state Legislature, and recommended a state constitutional amendment be placed on the ballot for voters in 2012.
Lois Perrin ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director said: “Governor Lingle vetoed HB 444, thereby failing in her sworn duty to do what’s best for the state she governs. To add insult to injury, she would now put fundamental rights up for a popular vote.”