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Hawaii judge declines to halt same-sex marriages

Jackson LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Hawaii state sealLast week, a judge in Hawaii heard arguments in a request from opponents of same-sex marriage opponents to prevent the issuance of marriage licenses in the state. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is reporting that the judge denied the request for the temporary restraining order, meaning that marriages will be able to go forward while the case proceeds in court.

The underlying case involves Hawaii’s constitutional amendment related to marriage. in 1998, voters amended the state constitution to allow the state legislature to limit marriage to opposite-sex only if it chooses to. The amendment was a result of a case that was filed in in 1991, challenging Hawaii’s legislative ban on same-sex marriage. The amendment as written was intended to preserve the constitutionality of a legislative ban on same-sex marriage. Now that the legislature has reversed course and has passed a bill to allow marriage equality, opponents filed a case suggesting that the amendment is unclear and that it actually intended to ban same-sex marriage outright. The state argues that the amendment’s language is clear and unambiguous.

During the hearing, the judge seemed to suggest that the same-sex marriage law will remain legal:

After hearing arguments for about an hour, Sakamoto said that while state Rep. Bob McDermott and others had standing to file their request to block the new marriage equality law, the state Legislature has the inherent authority to define marriage independent of a 1998 constitutional amendment that gave the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to heterosexual couples.

“After all the legal complexities of the court’s analysis, the court will conclude that same-sex marriage in Hawaii is legal,” Sakamoto said.

The marriage equality bill — known as Senate Bill 1 — was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie after a special session of the state Legislature.

“I’m very pleased with the court’s ruling,” state Attorney General David Louie told reporters. “I think the court clearly said that SB1 is constitutional. SB1 can go forward. The Legislature had the power to enact SB1 under its general powers as a Legislature.”

As EqualityOnTrial previously reported, the federal challenge to Hawaii’s former ban on same-sex marriage, Jackson v. Abercrombie is being heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the plaintiffs (same-sex couples) have asked the appeals court to delay the filing of their opening brief until December 22. The filing notes that unless the marriage equality law is rendered ineffective, that challenge will become moot.

Marriages are set to begin in two weeks, on December 2.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings

2 Comments

  • 1. Alan948  |  November 18, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Below are the official minutes of the hearing, from http://hoohiki1.courts.state.hi.us/
    The written order hasn't been entered yet.

    Case Title: REP BOB MCDERMOTT VS GOV NEIL AMBERCROMBIE ETAL 1CC13-1-002899
    Div.: 1C01 CM
    DATE: 11-14-2013
    Time: 0815A
    Priority: 1
    Judge I.D.: JKSAKAM

    Minutes:
    *****COURT REPORTER: LAHELA MOE*****
    CLERK: L. WALLRABENSTEIN
    PRESENT: ROBERT MATSUMOTO, JOHN DWYER FOR & W/ PLTF REP BOB MCDERMOTT
    AG DAVID LOUIE, DAG JOHN MOLAY, DAG DEIRDRE MARIE-IHA AND DAG DONNA KALAMA FOR DEFTS
    AT TERM: 8:23 AM – 9:24 AM

    CASE CALLED; APPEARANCES ENTERED. COURT HEARD ARGUMENTS BY MR. DWYER REGARDING ARTICLE 1,SECTION 23 OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. WHEN THE PEOPLE VOTED IN 1998, THEIR UNDERSTANDING AND INTENT WERE TO DEFINE MARRIAGE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN ONLY AND THAT SAME SEX MARRIAGE WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THIS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. COUNSEL FURTHER ARGUED FOR EQUITABLE ESTOPAL AND THAT THIS ISSUE IS A MATTER OF GREAT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE.

    MR. LOUIE MADE ARGUMENTS STATING ARTICLE 1 SECTION 23 ELEVATED THE POWERS OF THE LEGISLATURE TO RESERVE OPPOSITE SEX MARRIAGE. HOWEVER, UNDER ARTICLE 3, SECTION 1, THE LEGISLATURE HAS IT'S INHERENT CONSTITUTIONAL POWERS TO MAKE CHANGES TO THE STATUTES. THE LEGISLATURE INVOKED THESE POWERS TO MOVE FOR SB1 WHICH WAS PASSED AND SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE GOV. COUNSEL ALSO ARGUED, BEAHR ALLOWS SAME SEX MARRIAGE UNDER THE EQUAL PROTECTION PROVISION. THE PLTF HAS NO STANDING BECAUSE THERE ARE NO ACTUAL INJURY.

    ADD'L REBUTTAL ARGUMENTS BY MR. DWYER.

    THE COURT HAVING CONSIDERED ALL OF THE MOVING PAPERS, THE APPLICABLE LAW, AND THE ARGUMENTS OF COUNSEL, STATED HIS FINDINGS AND RULED AS FOLLOWS:

    THE COURT FINDS PLTF HAS STANDING BECAUSE THIS IS A MATTER OF GREAT PUBLIC IMPORTANCE. THE COURT ALSO FINDS, WHEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WAS RATIFIED BY THE PEOPLE UNDER ARTICLE 1 SECTION 23,THE PEOPLE WERE VOTING AGAINST SAME SEX MARRIAGE. HOWEVER, UNDER ARTICLE 3, SECTION 1, THE LEGISLATURE HAS ITS ORDINARY AND CUSTOMARY POWERS. AND UNDER ARTICLE 1, SECTION 5, THIS ALLOWS CIVIL RIGHTS AND EQUAL PROTECTION. THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT RULED ON THE DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE AND THAT IT WILL BE SUBJECT TO CONTROL BY THE LEGISLATURE. ACCORDINGLY, THE COURT RULED, "SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS LEGAL IN HAWAII". MR. LOUIE TO PREPARE THE ORDER FOR THE COURT'S SIGNATURE.

    PROCEEDINGS CONCLUDED.

  • 2. Kanor  |  February 21, 2014 at 5:01 am

    what???

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