HOUSTON VOICE • DECEMBER 17, 1999
Hawaii court rules against gay marriage
HONOLULU—Hawaii's Supreme Court
upheld a 1998 constitutional amendment
against gay marriage last Thursday, closing
the door on three gay couples who had sued
the state for the right to marry.
But gay rights activists say the decision
does not reverse the high court's 1993 ruling
that failure to recognize same-sex marriage
amounts to gender discrimination, and that
gay couples are entitled to the same rights
and benefits as heterosexual couples.
The 1998 amendment gave state legislators the power to determine whether marriage licenses should only recognize unions
between a man and a woman. The Hawaii
court ruled that the amendment protected
the ban from scrutiny under the equal protection clause of the state constitution, so
the law, passed in 1994, must now be given
Still, gay rights advocates said the ruling
applies only to the issuance of marriage
licenses and not to other legal recognition
for same-sex couples.
"Unless the legislature passes a comprehensive domestic partnership law, there are
going to be hundreds of lawsuits" demanding marriage-like benefits under the court's
1993 ruling, according to Dan Foley, the gay
Last week's decision did not bar future
cases seeking the same benefits that come
with civil marriage, agreed Evan Wolfson of
Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.
"Although raw power politics and the
fierce, sustained campaign of our opponents
may have prevented this case from getting
us all the way to equality this century, the
historic case has left us in a transformed
position to fight on," Wolfson said.
Hawaii became the hope of gay marriage
advocates in 1990, when three gay couples
were denied marriage licenses by the state
health department and sued the state.
Later that year, the case was thrown out
by a lower court judge.
But the Hawaii Supreme Court's historic
1993 decision reinstated the lawsuit, saying
the ban violated the state's constitution
unless the state could show compelling reason to justify it.
The ruling set off preemptive legislating
around the nation. At least 30 states banned
gay marriage, and Congress passed the
Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal recognition of same-sex marriage and
allowed states to ignore same-sex unions
In an effort to clarify the state's position,
the Hawaii legislature passed a law in 1994
limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
In 1996, Circuit Court Judge Kevin Chang
said the state could not justify that limitation
and ordered it to grant licenses to the couples. But he suspended his decision pending
an appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court.
In the intervening two years, voters
approved a 1998 constitutional amendment
giving legislators the authority to limit
state-recognized marriages to opposite-sex
couples, which they had already done.
The couples were "devastated" by the
court's decision, Foley said.
Of the three, Tammy Rodrigues and
Antoinne Pregil, and Pat Lagin and Joseph
Melillo remain in Hawaii and still want to
marry, Foley said. Ninia Baehr and Genora
Dancel have separated and are living on the
Melillo said the Supreme Court decision
was more upsetting than the public
approval of the constitutional amendment
because he expected the court to be a
guardian of civil rights.
"We have never lost a court case until this
memo was issued by the Supreme Court today,"
he said. "Ifs very difficult to see how they
arrived at this decision. It's really a cop-out."
Sue Reardon, a teacher at Kalaheo High
School, cried when she was told of the ruling.
"Oh, God, this is awful," said Reardon, an
activist who was hoping to marry her
female partner. "It's just scary. If you can
help create laws to segregate and discriminate, then no group is safe."
Opponents of gay marriage cheered the
"Thank you to the Hawaii Supreme Court
for affirming what we've known all along—
that marriage, by God's definition, is
between opposite-sex couples," said Mike
Gabbard, chairman of the Alliance for
Evan Wolfson of Lambda Legal said that even
with the Hawaii court defeat, gay couples are
entitled to all marriage rights short of a license.
Vermont a possibility
Vermont is the only state whose top court
is currently considering gay marriage.
Three gay couples sued there for the right
to marry in 1997, but a Superior Court judge
dismissed the case, ruling that there is no
fundamental right to gay marriage. The
The Vermont Supreme Court is expected
to rule soon on the case.
Chat | Personals | News | Travel | Entertainment | People
www.planeloutcom | AOL Keyword: PlanetOut
engage •->• enjoy
Join us in our excitement as we anticipate
the coming of our Lord and Saviour,
tKe Baby Jesus at
MARANATHA FELLOWSHIP MCC
3400 Montrose, Suite 600
(Corner of Montrose and Hawthorne)
Friday December 17 at 7pm
An evening of live praise & worship, coffee-shop style.
$5. Cover charge • $1. Flavored coffees and desserts.
This event benefits the Maranatha's Building Fund.
Emmanuel, God with Us!
December 19 at 10:30am
Special Worship Service in Story and Song
to conclude the Advent season.
Candle Light Service
Sunday, December 24 at 7pm
Reception to follow.
NURSERY AVAILABLE FOR ALL SERVICES.
For more information, call 713-528-6736 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org