Unfortunately, a Federal judge ruled against plaintiffs who sued the state saying only marriage would give them equal federal benefits.
Via the Advocate: U.S. District Judge Alan Kay issued a 120-page decision that said court involvement at this point would “short-circuit” the legislative activity that has taken place against the issue. A civil unions law took effect in 2011, but the co-plaintiffs in the suit, Jackson v. Abercrombie, argued that only marriage would give them certain federal benefits.
Judge Kay said that unlike California, where Proposition 8 took away marriage rights granted by the state’s highest court, same-sex couples in Hawaii were never legally able to marry, according to the Hawaii Reporter.
“If the traditional institution of marriage is to be restructured, as sought by plaintiffs, it should be done by a democratically-elected legislature or the people through a constitutional amendment, not through judicial legislation that would inappropriately preempt democratic deliberation regarding whether or not to authorize same-sex marriage,” wrote Judge Kay.
Hawaii has long been at the forefront of the marriage equality debate in the United States. The state’s supreme court ruled in 1993 that denying same-sex couples marriage rights constituted discrimination, but in 1998, voters became the first in the nation to approve a ban on same-sex marriage.
Governor Abercrombie issued a statement after the ruling that said he would join the plaintiffs if they decide to appeal, the AP reports. The appeal would be heard in the Ninth Circuit.
“I respectfully disagree and will join the Plaintiffs if they appeal this decision. To refuse individuals the right to marry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is discrimination in light of our civil unions law,” said Governor Abercrombie. “For me this is about fairness and equality.”