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Hawaii judge upholds constitutionality of marriage equality law

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A small but significant piece of news out of the Aloha state: an Oahu judge yesterday upheld the marriage equality law passed by the state legislature last year.  Big Island Now reports:

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

Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie issued a statement saying the ruling “unequivocally affirmed the right of people to marry the person they love without regard to gender.”

“This is a very good day for the people of Hawaii,” Louie said.

Bob McDermott, the Oahu Republican who filed the lawsuit even before the measure had been approved by the legislature, says he will appeal the ruling.


  • 1. peterplumber  |  January 31, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Bob McDermott, the Oahu Republican who filed the lawsuit even before the measure had been approved by the legislature, says he will appeal the ruling.

    Some people just don't know when to quit.

  • 2. Rick O.  |  January 31, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    My thoughts exactly. He seems to have made this a cottage industry; is he making money off it? Who pays for these lawsuits? ( I figure NOM will cease when their salaries dwindle.) McDermott certainly is at the point he can't be taken seriously by 90% of his constituents. Give that man a Lester Maddox ax handle for a retirement gift.

  • 3. Josh  |  January 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    What exactly is his claim against the law? Neither this post nor the linked article said unless I missed it. I'm sure it's a stupid reason, but an article should say what his basis is for the lawsuit.

  • 4. davep  |  January 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    He's trying t argue that Hawaii's previous measure gave the state legislature the power to define marriage as 1man1woman, and that it did not give them the power to define it as anything else. But of course, he's just plain wrong. The measure gave the legislature the power to define it as 1man1woman, or not to do so.

  • 5. Rakihi  |  January 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    The exact question presented to voters was: "Shall the Constitution of the State of Hawai'i be amended to specify that the legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples."

    He's arguing that the voters THOUGHT they were banning marriage equality when they approved the measure back in 1998 so he claims the legislature and courts are bound by what he claims was the voters' intent, notwithstanding the actual text of the amendment.

  • 6. Bruno71  |  January 31, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I think many voters in Florida in 2008 THOUGHT they were only banning marriage, but actually ended up banning everything else too.

  • 7. Zack12  |  January 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Mat Staver of Liberty Councel and his wife wrote the ban so it's not a shock.
    As for the people voting on it,they simply hear the words ban marriage and don't stop to think of anything else.
    Just one reason why we shouldn't vote on them.

  • 8. Bruno71  |  January 31, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Exactly. And that's what worries me about Indiana. We can have polls tell us that a majority of a given state's residents are against banning CUs/DPs, yet somehow at the polls we still get screwed. There are unfortunately people whose distaste for our marriages seem to override everything else in front of them.

  • 9. Zack12  |  January 31, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Being against is one thing,going out and voting against it is another.
    That's why the Minnesota victory was so important,they made sure people knew that every single vote counted and that saying you're against it means nothing if you don't vote.

  • 10. Rick O.  |  February 2, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Didn't Arizona's amendment fail in part because the public DID notice CU/DP's were also banned? Indiana is curious; guess the conservatives have decided losing some marginal votes now is outweighed by the likely shift in opinion over the next 2 years. So much for the idea amendments are supposed to be about more than the hot topic dejour.

  • 11. ebohlman  |  February 2, 2014 at 6:25 am

    True about Arizona, but the reason that worked is that AZ has lots of retirees. Many of them are widows/widowers who want to form new relationships but would stand to lose substantial financial benefits (spousal pensions/SS survivor benefits) if they remarried. Therefore, they don't want to marry, but don't want to be legal strangers to their partners either.

    The earlier version of the amendment would have prohibited them from obtaining any legal recognition of their relationships, and that got them out to the polls voting against it.

  • 12. bayareajohn  |  February 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Shocking how words are expected to mean things. A legislator should know this and write what they mean. Unless what they mean needs to be hidden in order to get votes. You know, like "Traditional" and "Republican" and "representative".

  • 13. Zack12  |  January 31, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I looked him up and found out he was in the Hawaii house before,the late 90's in fact when this ban was put on the ballot.
    In fact,it appears he was one of the people along with MIke Gabbard that help come up with drafts for the ban before the final version went to the voters.
    Bottom line,they can't accept that their religious beliefs that we're sinners and deserve no rights simply isn't going to stand up in court and that the ban they thought would prevent marriage equality in Hawaii forever isn't.

  • 14. Deeelaaach  |  February 1, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Was this filed in state or federal court? Just curious; it does make a difference.

  • 15. Zack12  |  February 1, 2014 at 10:24 am

    state court,so this will likely end up at their State Supreme Court at some point.

  • 16. Deeelaaach  |  February 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Thank you!

  • 17. Zack12  |  February 2, 2014 at 11:35 am

    One final thing on this lawsuit,Bob is the face of this but I strongly suspect others are involved in this as well,chief among them being Mike Gabbard of the State Senate,who is a DINO in every sense of the word.
    Bob and others had a hand in creating the amendment but Gabbard is the one who founded the group to push a gay marriage ban in the first place and didn't stop until they got it.
    His anti-gay history makes Bob and others look moot by comparsion.
    The only reason I suspect he hasn't been more vocal is because his daughter is now in Congress and given her own history(she says she's for marriage equality now),I suspect he doesn't want to be seen as the face of trying to overturn the new marriage equality law in Hawaii even though he WAS the fact of putting the ban in there in the first place.

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