Hawai'i State News

Marriage equality advocates form coalition to change Hawaiʻi State Constitution

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A new coalition of community partners has formed to repeal Section 23 of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution, which places the power to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples in the hands of the state legislature.

The “Change 23 Coalition” steering committee includes the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation, Hawaiʻi Health and Harm Reduction Center, Papa Ola Lōkahi, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and the ACLU of Hawaiʻi.

Coalition members say repealing Section 23 is an important step in securing marriage equality for the LGBTQIA+ community in Hawaiʻi.

“Hawaiʻi has a long-standing tradition of championing the freedoms and rights of its people,” said Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation Executive Director Randy Soriano. “The Equal Rights Amendment, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, has been enshrined in the State Constitution for over 40 years, even as its passage remains pending at the national level.”


The coalition announcement comes on the heels of National Coming Out Day during LGBT History Month and also marks the 30th anniversary of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court Baehr v Miike decision, which made Hawaiʻi the first place in the world to establish the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Article 1 of the Hawaiʻi Constitution’s Bill of Rights expands the freedom to marry beyond the U.S. Constitution, but coalition members assert there’s still more work to be done to protect equal rights for LGBTQIA+ folks in Hawaiʻi.

“On Nov. 3, 1998, a setback occurred when Section 23 was added to the Hawaiʻi State Constitution. It is the only section in our Bill of Rights that was inserted to deny a right,” said Change 23 Coalition Chair Jeffrey Hong, who also serves as an ACLU of Hawaiʻi board member. “Along with our coalition allies and supporters, we call for the repeal of Section 23, which represents an infringement on the rights and freedom of individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”


Approximately three-quarters of Hawaiʻi residents support the repeal of Section 23 and agree that marriage is a fundamental right between individuals regardless of sex, according to a public opinion poll conducted in September by the research division of the Anthology Marketing Group for the ACLU of Hawaiʻi.

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