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Hawaii Lawmaker Files Suit to Shut Down Marriage Equality Special Session Over 1998 Ballot Measure: VIDEO

Mcdermott

A Hawaii lawmaker is trying to shut down the special legislative session currently underway in the Aloha state, saying voters misunderstood a ballot measure in 1998 that read:

"A 'Yes' vote would add a new provision to the constitution that would give the legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples only."

HawaiiState Rep. Bob McDermott claims that most voters thought they were voting for marriage between a man and a woman, and the legislature does not have the right to decide.

At least one constitutional expert disagrees:

Andrea Freeman is an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii's William S. Richardson School of Law and teaches a course on constitutional law. She said the amendment is clear.

"The amendment clarified that the legislature could choose to reserve marriage only for opposite sex couples," she said. "But it definitely does not state that it is on the only thing it can do."

McDermott contends that according to settled law, the people's perception of the meaning of a constitutional vote carries precedence.

"What did the people understand they were voting on? Between a man and a woman only, because that's what they were told by the Office of Elections," said McDermott.

McDermott says he'll take his case to the state Supreme Court if the circuit court rules against him.

Watch Hawaii News Now's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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Comments

  1. Yeah, good luck, buddy! A much better case could have been made that the voters misunderstood their Yes vote on Prop 8, but there's no going back and magically deciding what the "voters" did or did not comprehend. Buh-Bye!

    Posted by: Zlick | Nov 1, 2013 7:13:54 PM


  2. I have been trying to follow what is happening in the House in Hawaii; thanks for the update. Sad the crazies have hit Hawaii too.

    Posted by: Timothyd | Nov 1, 2013 7:17:15 PM


  3. What a joker. The wording of the amendment is quite clear--it's an insult to the people of Hawaii to say they were too stupid to understand what this meant.

    If the amendment was designed to prevent same-sex marriage, it should have left the word "legislature" out of it.

    I would suggest that the representative file a new constitutional amendment today, which says exactly what he wants it to say, and see how many people vote for it...

    Posted by: Matt N | Nov 1, 2013 7:21:01 PM


  4. Seems like somebody should be voted off the island, or in this case islands . . .

    Posted by: Mike | Nov 1, 2013 7:27:02 PM


  5. This guy's an idiot. His contention is that the people and the legislature thought they were voting to forever ban same sex marriage. Yet former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Levinson in testimony to the Legislature today clearly demonstrated the Legislature intended the final decision to be left to the Legislature, not to the people. And second, here is the exact words the people had to inform them of what a vote meant:

    "Meaning of a Yes Vote

    A 'yes' vote would add a new provision to the constitution that would give the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples only. The Legislature could then pass a law that would limit marriage to a man and a woman, overturning the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage. (Verbatim Office of Elections instructions)"


    I don't see how anyone other than Republicans (who often don't follow facts or make up their own) could interpret this any way other than that the legislature makes the choice and has the final say.

    Posted by: Steve | Nov 1, 2013 7:52:26 PM


  6. LGBT Hawaiians should counter sue since he required by law to represent them and protect their rights.

    Posted by: Sean | Nov 1, 2013 7:52:43 PM


  7. It took them 15 years to decide the amendment was poorly written. Grasping at straws much?

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Nov 1, 2013 8:33:04 PM


  8. @Mike In The Tundra,

    That is how Republicans operate. Look at Arizona where Republicans are trying to get a voter approved amendment to the state constitution setting up the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission declared as being against the US Constitution. The reason: The Republican controlled Arizona Legislature wants a permanent Republican majority.

    Posted by: Phoenix Justice | Nov 1, 2013 8:55:40 PM


  9. A final act of desperation.

    Posted by: MAP | Nov 1, 2013 9:17:06 PM


  10. What's with all these religious people testifying in Hawaii? Is Hawaii really that full of evangelical christians? One after another saying the same things, droning on and on. It seems like Hawaii is the most Christian state in the country.

    Posted by: woody | Nov 1, 2013 9:38:45 PM


  11. Yeah, when the courts install marriage equality it's, "OH MY GOD! ACTIVIST JUDGES! THIS IS THE LEGISLATURE'S JOB!" When the legislature is following proper procedure and it's clear that marriage equality is going to pass, the VERY same people scream, "OH MY GOD! THIS IS NOT THE LEGISLATURE'S JOB! THE COURTS SHOULD DECIDE!" And when the courts and the legislature agree it will be, "OH MY GOD! ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN DECIDE! And then when the people are fully on board they will decide that only people in churches get to decide. And then aliens from other planets and then...

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Nov 1, 2013 10:38:19 PM


  12. The latest poll out of Hawaii had it 44 even on marriage support, Woody. A lot of Catholics and Mormons in Hawaii. There's also some other faiths in Hawaii that tend to be anti-gay. On the same token Hawaii has a high irreligious rate and many liberal religious individuals. So it's a very 50-50 thing.

    I just want things to end in Hawaii. It's been a very ugly few days and things are becoming drawn out.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Nov 2, 2013 7:56:49 AM


  13. Getting an amendment on the ballot has a whole process behind it, and the people who write the damn thing are the ones who support getting it passed.

    If it wasn't clear what the Amendment did, that falls on the people who wrote it. Once it's in the Constitution, no matter what the hell the damn thing says, it's up to the Courts and Legislature to implement it as enacted.

    These are the same people who have no issue campaigning on things like "Oh, don't worry, this won't take away any existing rights" and then turning around the minute it gets passed and stripping people of everything they can manage. Never see any "Oops, the people didn't realize what they were voting for" when it ALLOWS discrimination.

    If they didn't want the legislature to be able to pass marriage equality, they've sure as hell had plenty of time to try to pass a new amendment that's worded like everyone else's. They didn't. Live with it.

    Posted by: Lymis | Nov 2, 2013 9:58:36 AM


  14. What everybody said. I haven't read such thoughtful, intelligent, perceptive comments in quite a while. Thanks, everybody, for much food for thought.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Nov 2, 2013 10:19:27 AM


  15. This guy has become the face of the bigots in Hawaii but let's be blunt,the reason there is a danger of this bill not passing is because too many of the Democrats in the Hawaii House think the same way he does.
    They just want his face out there that way when they voice their objections they sound more reasonable.
    Bull,at the end of the day,they're all bigots.

    Posted by: Kevin | Nov 2, 2013 10:54:54 AM


  16. Translation from Rethuglican: Voters are too stupid to do anything unless they agree with me.

    But a kernel of the underlying argument is a good one: voters should not be forced into direct legislation by referendum, initiative or whatever, because statecraft requires keen balancing that is beyond mob rule.

    Posted by: Marco Luxe | Nov 2, 2013 4:33:53 PM


  17. The LDS Church is one of, if not the single largest landowner in the Islands and was at the forefront of the first smear the gays campaign when Marriage Equality was very close. Sort of the 'getting their feet wet' and then moving along in partnership with the catholics as they participated in rolling out their campaigns State By State, all roads leading to Prop H8, their big win. Well, loss of course, and the loss we all knew would be the ultimate turning win it has become along with DOMA.

    If this does not pass, there will be a path littered with cash to the reason(s) why.

    Posted by: RexT | Nov 2, 2013 4:39:54 PM


  18. But of course he'll take it to the Supreme Court, should we be granted human status.
    That's what christians do - their hatred knows no bounds.

    Posted by: enough already | Nov 2, 2013 11:13:18 PM


  19. McDermott is lying. It was understood among the 1998 amendment's supporters that the legislature would have the power to define marriage. On September 25, 1998, in an article entitled "The Power to Define Marriage", Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo Of Honolulu asked the Catholics of Hawaii to help educate voters on gay marriage bill. Bishop DiLorenzo wrote at the time:

    Dear Friends in Christ,

    "Shall the Constitution of the State of Hawaii be amended to specify that the legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples?"

    On November 3, 1998, the people of Hawaii will have the opportunity to reaffirm their power to define marriage through their elected officials. By voting "yes" on the above ballot proposal, citizens hope to stop the Hawaii State Supreme Court's efforts to mandate "same-sex marriage."

    The November vote has implications not only for Hawaii, but for all the people of the United States and beyond. For without the passage of this amendment, the Hawaii court will almost surely redefine marriage. The effects of such a decision will reverberate across the country.

    With every best wish, I remain,

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo
    Bishop of Honolulu

    The people (and their churches) knew they were voting to allow the legislature to decide to reserve marriage to opposite sex couples. It wasn't a worry then because the legislature was on their side. Plus McDermott's argument makes no sense - if the consitutional amendment reserved marriage to opposite couples, then there was no reason for the legislature to get involved after it was voting on by the people.

    Posted by: Greg Garneau | Nov 8, 2013 1:15:12 AM


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