Hawaii same-sex couples sue Governor for equal rights

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August 5, 2010

HONOLULU, Hawaii: On July 29, six same-sex couples sued Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle for equal rights from the state.[1] The lawsuit follows Lingle's veto of HB 444, which would have given the same rights and benefits to gay and lesbian couples that the state currently provides married couples. Legislative leaders did not challenge the veto.

Under the state's constitutional prohibition against sex discrimination, the lawsuit seeks the same benefits and responsibilities for same-sex couples currently afforded to opposite-sex couples. It does not ask for the ask for the titles of marriage or civil unions. Hawaii passed a "defense of marriage" constitutional amendment in 1998, but it does not say anything about the rights of same-sex couples.[2]

The lawsuit is being brought by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union. Senior counsel for Lambda Legal, Jennifer Pizer, stated,"The state's equality guarantee at least has to mean same-sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities, even if it's segmented off into a system that isn't as respected, understood and revered as marriage."

The previous week a similar lawsuit was brought by same-sex couples in Montana, seeking legal domestic partnerships under the state Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection.[3]

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