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Preliminary Hearing Held in Jackson Case

Judge Alan Kay hears oral arguments at a preliminary hearing in Honolulu in the Jackson case.  The plaintiffs argue the merits of the case before the court, telling Judge Kay that they wish to marry and not simply enter into a civil union.  Only through marriage, they argue, can they access the federal benefits afforded to married couples.  “Hawaii has drawn the line between civil unions and marriage,” John D’Amato, the plaintiffs attorney, tells the court. “Opposite-sex couples may cross that line at will.”

Bill Wynhoff, representing Loretta Fuddy, the director of the Hawaii Department of Health who is defending the state’s marriage laws, tells the court that the case is not about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, since the laws do not allow any men to marry men or women to marry women regardless of their sexual orientation.  In other words, neither straight men nor gay men are allowed to marry men, so the law cannot possibly classify people based on sexual orientation.

Dale Schowengerdt, arguing for the Christian group Hawaii Family Forum, tells the court that reserving marriages for heterosexual couples only protects the “natural procreative capacity” of such couples, and gives them an incentive to form stable family bonds for raising children.

The Hawaii Family Forum also argues in court that Governor Neil Abercrombie should not be a party to the suit since he is not defending the law and is not the government official responsible for issuing marriage licenses.  Governor Abercrombie’s attorney argues that doing so would “unfairly penalize[]” the governor for allowing Fuddy to defend the law.

Judge Kay issues no rulings in the case, but tells the parties he is inclined to allow the governor to remain in the suit.

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