Governor Neil Abercrombie believes the state prohibition against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional but his administration will defend it in federal court.
In a news release today, the Attorney General’s office said it has filed separate court responses for the governor and Health Department director Loretta Fuddy to a lawsuit that challenges the state constitutional ban of same-sex marriages.
A new law passed last year permits same-sex couples to enter into state-sanctioned “civil unions” but the constitutional ban of marriages remains.
“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.
Fuddy said it is her job to administer the law now on the books and that is what she must do.
“The Department of Health is charged with implementing the law as passed by the Legislature.,” said Fuddy.
“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,” said Fuddy.
Fuddy said her legal position was drawn up after consultations with the governor.
The lawsuit was filed in November by same-sex couple Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid after they were denied a marriage license by the Health Department.
Another plaintiff, Gary Bradley, said that he and his partner were the first couple to enter into a civil union in Hawaii but did nto apply for a marriage license would have been “futile.”
Attorney General David Louie said his office will represent both Abercrombie and Fuddy in the lawsuit, despite their divergent positions.
Louie said his office “must erect appropriate firewalls” inside the office between the attorneys for the respective parties in the case.
“In this case, both the Governor and the Director are being represented by separate teams of attorneys general, and appropriate protections have been put in place to ensure that both clients are being vigorously, and separately, represented,” Louie’s office said.