Federal Judge Says ‘No’ To Marriage Equality In Hawaii

HawaiiPostCardMarriage equality opponents scored a victory in Hawaii, where gay couples were suing for the right to tie the knot and receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts, rather than entering into the limited civil unions already available.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Alan C. Kay sided with opponents, but perhaps only for the civil mechanics of it all.

"Hawaii's marriage laws are not unconstitutional," Kay wrote. "Nationwide, citizens are engaged in a robust debate over this divisive social issue. If the traditional institution of marriage is to be reconstructed, as sought by the plaintiffs, it should be done by a democratically elected legislature or the people through a constitutional amendment."

Neil Abercrombie, the Democratic governor who signed civil unions into law last year, says he disagrees with Judge Kay and will join any potential appeal effort. "To refuse individuals the right to marry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is discrimination in light of our civil unions law. For me, this is about fairness and equality," he said, according to The Sacramento Bee.


  1. Aiden Raccoon says

    I’m not sure I completely understand what the judge is ruling on and what the questions were that were asked of him that he actually ruled on. It can be true that the current laws they sued against were constitutional and they sued for the wrong reasons.

  2. Daniel Berry, NYC says

    I don’t find it easy to understand a judge who believes the rights of a segment of the citizenry is eligible for debate. And, though I have little respect for the SCOTUS as currently constituted, I find it hard to believe the Supreme Bench will disagree with me when the haters try to prove that a compelling national interest demands depriving gay people of the rights of others.

  3. tim says

    That judge is talking like Governor Chris Christie. He seems to have no understanding of separation of powers or the role of the judicial system. This is 9th grade civics: the judicial branch is to interpret the constitutionality of laws. His ruling is nothing more than “it is the law, so therefore it stands.” Obviously a partisan hack.

  4. NVTodd says

    On the bright side, he’s basically advocating that if the elected representatives and/or the public approves, it’s law.

    There’s a opportunity to make this happen coming up in Maine.

    Please support the second round for the battle for marriage equality in Maine; Maine being the first state to recognize marriage equality certainly would go a long way towards marriage equality everywhere in the US.

    Remember, last time it only failed to pass by a mere 6,000 votes…


  5. says

    From the quote, I can only wonder how this person was appointed to the bench. He seems to have no idea of the role of the courts or the weight of constitutional guarantees of fundamental rights.

  6. RichB in PS says

    I support and approve the following the govenor of Hawaii, “To refuse individuals the right to marry on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is discrimination in light of our civil unions law. For me, this is about fairness and equality,”

  7. Luke says

    There are at least four US Supreme Court justices who agree with this judge. At least…

  8. Bingo says

    Most of the reporting on this has been terrible, thus the confusion as to what the judge is ruling on. It’s not really about Hawaii at all.

    Lesbians sued saying they were denied a marriage license and that denial violates their rights under the US Constitution. It’s a federal case.

    The answer is: the judge found that the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, specifically its guarantees of due process and equal protection, does not provide a right for gays to marry.

  9. BZ says

    The judge relied on the Baker precedent from the early 1970s. A lot has happened since then, but SCOTUS hasn’t (yet) overturned that precedent. Still, the language about “restructuring traditional marriage” is a major red flag.

  10. David says

    Kay’s decision is BS. The constitution does not need to be amended to allow for same-sex marriage, it would need to be amended to prohibit it. Even George Bush knew that. And the last time the legislature tried to legalize it, the Mormon and Catholic churches poured in millions of dollars to prevent that.

  11. Pete N SFO says

    Is anyone else tired of the expression, “divisive social issue”?

    My feeling is that it allows people to dismiss the relevance by claiming it’s a difference of opinion and not a question of equality under law.

    Push back. It’s such bullshiz.

    And this judge doesn’t need to offer lessons in civics, he simply needs to rule of the question before him. Legislating from the bench, indeed!

  12. kpo5 says

    “Still, the language about “restructuring traditional marriage” is a major red flag.”


    Partisan cues. Not as obvious as Scalia ranting, but obvious enough.

  13. jamal49 says

    This federal judge did not interpret law. He offered a political opinion much as Antonin Scalia has stopped interpreting the law and only ruling to supplement or implement his personal prejudices.

    It was not up to the Hawaii jude to opine about “traditional marriage” or whether or not suing the state of Hawaii for excluding same-sex couples from the civil marriage contracts that opposite-sex couples can obtain is a “divisive social issue”.

    He was being asked to determine whether or not denying marriage equality violates the 14th Amendment.

    He failed to do so and his ruling was so biased towards his own evangelical beliefs that it is a travesty that he was even allowed to hear this case.

    He ruled incorrectly. I am being polite. That judge should be removed from the bench.

  14. Beef and Fur says

    An 80 year old conservative christian republican Reagan appointee made this decision. You would think someone that old would remember that the court does step in to advance civil rights and that it is a perfectly acceptable process. Wait for the appeal. It will go to the 9th.

  15. ajax2828 says

    @PETE N SFO: You are so right. I seem to recall that ending segregation was also a “divisive” issue. According to this judge, I guess the Supreme Court was wrong to decide Brown v. Board of Education. And by the way, Judge, if it weren’t a divisive issue, there wouldn’t be a lawsuit over it. It will be fun if this goes up to the Ninth Circuit.