Even though Hawaii has enjoyed marriage equality for a year, and even though 1,800 same-sex marriages have taken place in the state during that time, anti-gay Rep. Bob McDermott has won his chance to bring the issue to the state supreme court at least one more time.
On Dec. 18, the state’s high court will hear oral arguments in the challenge brought by Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican in the Hawaii Legislature. The basis of his case: Hawaii voters opposed same sex marriage in 1998 by a vote of 69.2 percent to 28.6 percent on a amendment that read: “The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.”
Most voters believed they were reserving marriage to opposite-sex couples only in 1998, McDermott said, because the amendment clearly restricted the power of the Legislature on this issue, not expanded it. “The people spoke on this issue in 1998 in a clear voice. To ignore them is to disregard and disenfranchise their 1998 vote,” McDermott said. “I defy anyone to explain how those ballot instructions mean they can exercise the exact opposite of the will of the people regarding marriage. Who owns the government, politicians or the people?”
McDermott first filed a court challenge to the law while it was still being debated at the Legislature last November. “Some people fail to realize that we won on two of the three issues contested in the second hearing, as to standing and the language of the amendment, respectively,” McDermott said.