Friday, November 15, 2013
Hawaii Judge Dismisses Case Challenging Gay Marriage Law
Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law on Wednesday, a day after it cleared the Hawaii Legislature. The law takes effect on December 2.
Hawaii State Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican, filed the suit as lawmakers debated the issue during a 2-week special session called for by Abercrombie. However, Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto said he could not hear the case until after the bill had become law.
McDermott has argued that a 1998 voter-approved constitutional amendment only allows the Legislature to define marriage as a heterosexual union.
“What the voters thought they were voting – the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples only,” said McDermott. “That word 'only' is key. That was mailed to every voter in 1998.”
At Thursday's hearing, Attorney General David Louie told Sakamoto that the amendment “very simply” gave lawmakers the power to define marriage but did not specify how it should be defined.
“You cannot bar the Legislature from enacting laws, which is what they're trying to do,” Louie said.
Jack Dwyer, the attorney representing McDermott, suggested that the people of Hawaii had been duped, repeatedly using the phrase “bait and switch.”
Sakamoto disagreed, saying that the Legislature has an inherent right to define marriage through the enactment of statutes, which includes same-sex couples as it has done.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, McDermott would not say whether an appeal was in the offing.