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Gay-Marriage Law Withstands Court Challenge

Posted November 14, 2013, 10:06 AM HST Updated November 15, 2013, 10:11 AM HST
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie waves to an invitation-only crowd following Wednesday’s signing of Hawaii’s gay-marriage bill, which withstood a court challenge this morning. Courtesy photo.

An Oahu Circuit Court judge this morning refused to issue a temporary restraining order blocking the state from issuing licenses for same-sex marriages, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled the state Legislature could authorize gay marriages despite a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998.

That amendment allowed the Legislature to restrict marriage to between one man and one woman, which was the subject of a law the Legislature had passed in 1994.

Both actions were in response to a 1993 Hawai`i Supreme Court ruling that such a restriction was contrary to the state’s Constitution.

The lawsuit was filed in late October by state Rep. Bob McDermott and others to challenge a bill under consideration by the Legislature that would legalize same-gender marriages in Hawai`i.

At that time, Sakamoto declined to take action but said he would hear arguments from the plaintiffs if the bill became law.

The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 on Tuesday, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the measure into law on Wednesday. Later that day, state attorneys filed documents with the court in opposition to the lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the law.

State attorneys also argued that the 1998 amendment clearly gave state lawmakers the authority to define marriage, and Sakamoto agreed.

***Updated at 2:21 p.m.***

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