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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 29, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 22
Hawaii Supreme Court rejects challenge to marriage law
Section One
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Hawaii Supreme Court rejects challenge to marriage law

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Hawaii Supreme Court has dismissed a legal challenge to the state's 2013 Marriage Equality Act.

The suit was filed by Republican State Representative Bob McDermott, alleging that Hawaii's legislature did not have the constitutional authority to legalize same-sex marriage.

According to a press release from the Hawaii Attorney General's office, the state Supreme Court ruled that McDermott and his co-plaintiffs were not harmed or injured by the 2013 law, and therefore had no standing to challenge it.

'The most important part of the Supreme Court's ruling was its conclusion that the Legislature's decision to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples did not, in any way, diminish the right to marry for the plaintiffs or anyone else,' Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said, quoting the opinion.

'This is an exciting time for marriage equality in our country, as we await the United States Supreme Court's ruling that will govern so many other States,' said Deputy Attorney General Deirdre Marie-Iha, who argued on behalf of the defendants.

'We hope that the United States Supreme Court will recognize, as our Supreme Court did today, that those who oppose marriage equality are 'harmed not at all when others are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and are shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.' '

Hawaii's Marriage Equality Act was passed by the state Senate on October 30, 2013, and by the House on November 8. After some back-and-forth negotiations to reconcile the different versions of the bill, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the final product into law November 12. Couples began marrying December 12.

Abercrombie later blamed his defeat in the 2014 Democratic primary on his strong support for marriage equality. Insiders said, however, that he lost because he alienated allies of the late Senator Daniel Inouye by snubbing the senator's pick to succeed him.

McDermott's suit was filed shortly after the law was signed, and was originally dismissed by a state circuit judge. McDermott claimed that a 1998 state constitutional amendment prohibited same-sex marriage, but the judge ruled that the amendment in question merely gave the state legislature the authority to prohibit same-sex marriage if it chose to do so.

McDermott appealed to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case in December last year.

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