East Hawaii News

Louie: State Won’t Defend Outdated Same-Sex Law

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The state’s attorney general announced today that Hawaii will no longer defend the old law banning same-sex marriages in federal court.

And in the process, it will stop arguing with itself.

In December 2011, a lesbian couple, Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid, filed suit against Hawaii, arguing that defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

In response, the state formed two separate legal teams which filed two opposing responses to the case known as Jackson v. Abercrombie.

One, on behalf of the then-director of the state Department of Health, sought to uphold the Hawaii law.


The other, filed at the request of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, agreed with the couple.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 in favor of the law, essentially siding with the Department of Health.

That ruling was appealed.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently called for briefs to be filed on the case.


Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie today said that the new Hawaii law allowing same-gender marriages approved late last year, as well as rulings by the US Supreme Court and other courts, make further action on Jackson v. Abercrombie unnecessary.

“Last year, Hawaii changed the law to ensure marriage equality for same-sex couples,” Louie said in a statement today. “Its passage has turned the page in history on the issue of discrimination. There are no longer grounds to defend the previous law.”

He noted that since the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act, federal district courts in nine states have ruled that laws banning marriages between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.

Louie also said dropping the defense of the case is “simply the right thing to do.”


US Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has also refused to defend DOMA, and has encouraged state attorneys general not to do so either.

And finally, the state’s new health director, who inherited the position of defendant in Jackson v. Abercrombie, agreed with Louie.

“I applaud the decision of the Attorney General, as the law has changed for the better, and it is no longer necessary to perpetuate discrimination,” said Dr. Linda Rosen.

“The Hawaii Department of Health has been pleased to implement the new law and help more than 1,400 same-sex couples obtain marriage licenses over the past five months.”

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