Hawaii stops defending law banning same-sex marriage

Tue May 6, 2014 9:07am EDT

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate after the Hawaii State Senate approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage to be legal in the state of Hawaii, in Honolulu November 12, 2013. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate after the Hawaii State Senate approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage to be legal in the state of Hawaii, in Honolulu November 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Hugh Gentry

(Reuters) - Hawaii will no longer defend a law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, five months after the state legalized same-sex marriage, state officials said on Monday.

The state will stop defending against a lawsuit filed in 2011 by a same-sex couple who sought to declare Hawaii's old marriage law unconstitutional, according to a statement from Attorney General David M. Louie.

Last November, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, had signed a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. The law took effect December 2.

"The law, policy and public sentiment in Hawaii has clearly and dramatically changed in favor of marriage equality," said Louie.

In response to the 2011 lawsuit, the state had filed two separate answers, one representing then-Director of Health Loretta Fuddy and the other representing Abercrombie. Fuddy's legal team had defended the law as constitutional, while Abercrombie had agreed with the plaintiffs.

Both Abercrombie and the current health director, Dr. Linda Rosen, supported the decision to stop defending the law, according to the statement. The health department has helped more than 1,400 same-sex couples obtain marriage licenses over the past five months, Rosen said.

Momentum toward expanding marriage rights for same-sex couples has grown since the U.S. Supreme Court in June last year ruled that legally married gay couples were eligible for federal benefits.

Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. That number would increase sharply if federal court rulings striking down bans in several states are upheld on appeal.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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Comments (2)
Robert76 wrote:
Still having trouble understanding why the “so called Conservative Christians” feel they have the right to ban anyone from getting married. The Bible does not state that a marriage is a union between one man and one woman. In fact there are chapters that speak of men with multiple wives…..so much for the one man and one woman take on marriage.

Further, the marriage license is something dreamed up by man to collect revenue and set up a system for handling the assets of those getting married.

May 05, 2014 12:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
EchoTony wrote:
Robert76: It’s all about not “feeling” comfortable with the idea. Fear of something different. Fear… fear … fear. That’s why.

I don’t think it’s Christians so much as the old guard fearful of change and loss of power. Just happens that old white Christian guys are the old guard, and they don’t like loosing their control over the rest.

May 06, 2014 12:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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