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Filed under: Jackson

Equality news round-up: ACLU says vote suppression is LGBT rights issue, and more

By Scottie Thomaston

Here is the decision Jackson v. Abercrombie in which a federal court in Hawaii ruled against same-sex couples seeking marriage:Hawaii Decision Jackson vs Abercromnie

– In an opinion piece, some caution on Maryland marriage polling.

– Both President Obama and Mitt Romney say they oppose the Boy Scouts’ gay ban.

– The CDC will have a new study on HIV among gay and bisexual people.

– A legal commentary on DOMA and Pedersen v. OPM.

– The ACLU explains how vote suppression is a LGBT rights issue.

August 9, 2012

Federal judge in Hawaii rules against couples seeking marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Some disappointing news out of Hawaii, where late yesterday a federal judge ruled against two women seeking to bring marriage equality to the Aloha State by opposing the states civil unions law in the case Jackson v. Abercrombie. “Hawaii’s marriage laws are not unconstitutional,” district court Judge Alan C. Kay wrote in his ruling, which continued (via the Sacramento Bee):

“Nationwide, citizens are engaged in a robust debate over this divisive social issue. If the traditional institution of marriage is to be reconstructed, as sought by the plaintiffs, it should be done by a democratically elected legislature or the people through a constitutional amendment,” and not through the courts.

In the ruling, Judge Kay also denied a request by the Hawaii Family Forum, the Christian group defending the law, seeking to remove Gov. Neil Abercrombie as the named defendant in the case. In an unusual twist, Abercrombie, who personally supports marriage equality, found himself on both sides of the case as a defendant who in fact supports the case of the plaintiffs. In a statement, Abercrombie said that he opposes the court’s ruling and will join with the plaintiffs in any appeal they file:

“To refuse individuals the right to marry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is discrimination in light of our civil unions law. For me, this is about fairness and equality.”

Without a doubt, the Hawaii court’s ruling, particularly the language about marriage being ‘reconstructed,’ is a frustrating one. We’ll have more analysis of the ruling to come.

46 Comments August 9, 2012

Preliminary hearing held in Hawaii marriage equality case

By Jacob Combs

The AP reports that at an initial hearing Tuesday in the Hawaii marriage equality case Jackson v. Abercrombie, lawyers for Gov. Neil Abercrombie argued that he should remain in the case as a defendant even though he agrees with the plaintiffs that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional.  District Court Judge Alan Kay also heard arguments on the merits of the case, who argue that Hawaii’s civil unions keep the state’s gay and lesbian couples from equal protection under the laws.

Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group that Judge Kay allowed to intervene in the lawsuit as defendants after Abercrombie declined to defend the law, argued in court that the governor should not be a party to the suit because he is not the governmental officer who oversees the issuance of marriage licenses.  Abercrombie’s position of simultaneously supporting the lawsuit while opposing the law puts him in a similar position to the federal government in the various DOMA cases being litigated across the country.

Kay told the participants in Tuesday’s hearing that he is leaning towards allowing Abercrombie to remain in the case as a party, although he made no official ruling on the matter.  He also issued no ruling on the two sides requests for a conclusion to the case without further oral argument since the material facts of the case are not disputed by the two sides.

At the hearing, Clyde Wadsworth, an attorney for Equality Hawaii and Hawaii LGBT, both of which filed friend of the court briefs in the case, noted the Hawaii case’s similarity to the Prop 8 trial in Calfornia.  The Jackson case also resembles another case in Nevada, Sevcik v. Sandoval, which is challenging that state’s domestic partnership laws under the U.S. Constitution.

21 Comments July 26, 2012

Lesbian couple files lawsuit in U.S. District Court, suing Hawaii for the right to marry

By Adam Bink

From The Advocate:

A lesbian couple from Honolulu are suing the state of Hawaii for the right to marry after being told they could not file for a marriage license by the state health department.

Natasha N. Jackson, and Janin Kleid filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Wednesday, claiming that their rights to due process and equal protection as guaranteed in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were violated. The defendants named are Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Loretta J. Fuddy, director of the state health department.

The lawsuit comes as Hawaii’s long-battled civil union law goes into effect in January. The state approved a gay marriage ban in 1998, designating marriage only for heterosexual couples.

Jackson and Kleid also argue that they must be allowed to marry in order to access certain federal benefits, according to the Associated Press. The women have been together for four years and through that time have endured their share of financial and health-related hardships. Most recently, Jackson was unable to insure Kleid under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a federal law that allows terminated employees to continue in their employer’s health care plan.

28 Comments December 10, 2011

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