Federal court rejects challenge to Hawaii same-sex marriage prohibition

[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] on Wednesday denied a state law challenge brought by a lesbian couple who seek to be married rather than enter into a civil union. Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in December, claiming they are being denied the "fundamental right" to marry under Hawaii's marriage law [text], which restricts the legal definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. The court upheld the law, agreeing with intervenor Hawaii Family Forum [advocacy website] that such a definition is not unconstitutional and holding that it is the role of the state legislature, not the courts, to change the definition of marriage. Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) [official profile], who signed a same-sex civil unions bill [JURIST report] into law in February, was in a unique position as being a named defendant in the lawsuit while simultaneously supporting the plaintiffs' claims [AP report]. After the ruling Abercrombie stated [press release] that he disagreed with the decision and that "[t]o refuse individuals the right to marry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is discrimination in light of our civil unions law." Abercrombie further stated that he plans to join the plaintiffs' appeal.

Several states will include a same-sex marriage question on their ballot in the upcoming election. In June citizens in Washington and Maryland [JURIST reports] received enough votes to challenge newly passed same-sex marriage legislation. Each state's ballot will contain a section asking voters to accept or reject the new legislation. Similarly, a group supporting same-sex marriage in Maine achieved enough signatures [JURIST report] in February to have the question of same-sex marriage appear on its ballot. Earlier that month New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation [JURIST report] that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state, and called for a state-wide referendum on the issue. Also in February the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] California's Proposition 8 [JURIST news archive], a voter-approved [JURIST report] same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] ban.

 

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