Hawaii amended its constitution in 1998, giving the legislature the right to pass laws defining marriage as between only a man and a woman. The case became the basis of fear-mongering politics in the 2000 and 2004 elections which helped secure the presidency for George W. Bush and several states, including Virginia, passed ballot measures amending their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage.
The AP reports that six gay couples have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Aloha State's same-sex marriage ban, just two weeks after Hawaii's Governor Lingle vetoed domestic partnership legislation:
The lawsuit doesn't seek the titles of "marriage" or "civil unions" for gay partners. Instead, it requests that the court system extend them the benefits and responsibilities of marriage based on the Hawaii Constitution's prohibition against sex discrimination.
"We continue to be discriminated against," said plaintiff Suzanne King, who has been in a relationship with her partner for 29 years. "We're a family unit, and we live our lives just like everyone else, but we aren't treated the same."
The legal action in state court comes as a response to the Republican governor's veto July 6, when she said voters should decide whether to reserve marriage for couples of a man and a woman.
Five other states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage. Five more states essentially grant the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.
Hawaii passed the nation's first "defense of marriage" constitutional amendment in 1998, giving the state's legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples. The amendment is silent on civil unions and rights for same-sex couples.
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