Equality Time Warp in Hawai’i

Pat Gozemba

Yesterday at the Hawai’i State Capitol we celebrated a Senate vote of 18-7 in favor of civil unions. There is some irony in the celebration because in 1993 Justice Steven Levinson, writing for the majority, ruled in Baehr v. Lewin that same-sex couples should not be denied marriage equality.

But yesterday, 16 years later, I found myself with Justice Levinson and hundreds of others celebrating the first step of achieving relationship equality in Hawai’i: passing a civil unions bill out of the Hawai’i state senate.

Levinson.20100123_nws_gay2

Supporters of the civil unions bill — including Pat Gozemba, left, and retired state Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson — celebrated yesterday. In 1993, Levinson co-authored the decision saying that Hawaii needed a “compelling state interest” for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Photo by Dennis Oda of The Star Bulletin.

How did Hawai’i get itself in this time warp? A constitutional ballot amendment in 1998 gave the legislature the authority to determine what marriage is. The legislature chose the discriminatory route: one man and one woman.

But the legislature did not take the ultimately discriminatory route and institutionalize marriage inequality in the state constitution through a constitutional convention.

The Hawai’i House of Representatives will now take up the civil unions bill. Marriage equality, a glimmer of hope in 1993, seems so remote.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s