Six gay couples file suit in HI for the rights of marriage
Six gay Hawaiian couples are suing the state for the same rights as married couples. Gay rights group Lambda Legal announced there WOULD BE a lawsuit the night Republican Governor Linda Lingle vetoed the Civil Unions bill that had been passed by state lawmakers. On Thursday, they made it official. The lawsuit asks for the same benefits and responsibilities available to heterosexual couples, under the state constitution’s ban on sex discrimination – but as Lambda Staff Attorney Tara Borelli explains, it cannot specifically ask for “Marriage” or “Civil Unions.”
Borelli: “Because of the way Hawaii’s constitution was amended in 1998, that amendment reserves for the legislature, the decision about whether to allow marriage equality for same-sex couples. So we aren’t able to ask the court for marriage equality, it’s a case instead that seeks access to the complete package of legal tools to protect families.”
Borelli says her clients deserve the same protections that other Hawaii couples get.
Borelli: “We represent six couples, many of whom have been together two and three decades. They are a picture of what many of us might aspire to. They are loving, committed couples, and they are really hurt by the state’s lack of recognition for their family relationship right now.”
The state does grant SOME rights to gay couples through its reciprocal beneficiaries system, but Lambda says they lack legal priviledges and obligations like adoption, child support, alimony and access to family court.
The office of Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett declined AP’s request for comment on Wednesday because it hadn’t yet been served with the lawsuit.