Hawaii governor refuses to defend state ban on gay marriage in court

Thu. February 23, 2012 11:53 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

Honolulu, Hawaii - Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is now refusing to defend the state's ban on gay marriage in court, saying he can't defend a law that is "unconstitutional."

"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.

Abercrombie's position has left others in state government to defend the ban against a lawsuit filed by lesbians Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid, who tried to get a marriage license last December.

Abercrombie's position is much like that of Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was the original plaintiff in the main lawsuit in that state to overturn Prop. 8, the ban on gay marriage.

Schwarzenegger and his then-Attorney General, Jerry Brown, refused to spend their time and state money on defending the law, so a conservative Christian group stepped in to defend it. Whether or not that group has the right to act in the state's place is still under legal review.

Abercrombie said that "by denying all same-sex couples the ability to marry, state law discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, and there are no compelling, substantial, or even rational bases for such discrimination."

Courthouse News Service reported that Hawaii's law will be defended by the State Director of Health, Loretta Fuddy, whose department issues marriage licenses.