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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hawaii Governor Refuses to Defend Gay Marriage Ban in Court

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Really the Rainbow State?
  • Really the Rainbow State?

As the battle over the constitutionality of California's ban on gay marriage wends its way through the federal courts, the challenge to a similar law in Hawaii has taken a surprising turn.

Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii's Democratic governor, said this week he will refuse to fight a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking to overturn a state law that limits marriage to heterosexual couples. (Hawaii recently became the seventh state to permit civil unions, but still bans gay couples from obtaining the marriage designation.)

His stance comes even as Loretta Fuddy, director of the Hawaii Department of Health -- and an Abercrombie appointee -- said she will defend the law since it is her duty to enforce existing legislation. (You might remember Fuddy from her awkward position in the kerfuffle over President Obama's birth certificate.)

"Under current law, a heterosexual couple can choose to enter into a marriage or a civil union. A same-sex couple, however, may only elect a civil union. My obligation as Governor is to support equality under law. This is inequality, and I will not defend it," Abercrombie said in a statement.

Fuddy issued her own statement: "The Department of Health is charged with implementing the law as passed by the Legislature. Absent any ruling to the contrary by competent judicial authority regarding constitutionality, the law will be enforced. Because I am being sued for administering the law, I will also defend it."

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Peter Jamison

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