Hawaii Representative McDermott files lawsuit to stop same-sex legislation

A PLACE IN SCHOOLS? Rep. Bob McDermott argues a new teacher training program shouldn't be allowed in public schools.
Bob McDermott

REPORT FROM THE OFFICE OF REP. BOB MCDERMOTT – Representative Bob McDermott filed a lawsuit today seeking a Declaratory Judgment regarding the 1998 ballot issue pertaining to same-sex marriage. The Governor and many legislators now claim that the meaning of the issue presented on the 1998 ballot gave the State Legislature the power to make all future decisions on same sex marriage.

McDermott, however, insists that the adopted Constitutional Amendment, and official instructions from the Office of Elections, clearly set limits on legislative authority.  McDermott further states that the people clearly “thought” they were voting on a legal definition of marriage as between opposite sexes only.

According to settled law, the people’s perception of the meaning of a constitutional vote carries precedence over any other subordinate statutory consideration.

McDermott said, “I was there in 1998 as a member of the State House….a claim few in office today can make.  The people thought they were answering the question once and for all.  However, the horrible language that was foisted upon the people by the Senate Judiciary committee at the time left us with no choice but to accept the amendment.  This explains the mess we are in today.“

The 1998 amendment reads: The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.  On November 3, 1998, Hawaii voters approved the amendment by a vote of 69.2–28.6%, and the state legislature exercised its power to ban same-sex marriage.

However, the people were told by the Office of Elections in an aggressive 4-week campaign that the meaning of the amendment was at following:

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)

The point here is that the people thought they were voting on reserving marriage to opposite-sex couples only.  Settled US Supreme Court Law affirms that the will or intent of the people on a Constitutional Amendment, when reasonably inferred, supersedes any subordinate statutory language or committee reports.

Excerpts from the Senate Journal, Friday April 18, 1997 just prior to the vote for the Constitutional Amendment Relating to Marriage show that Representative McDermott was not the only one who correctly understood the meaning of the amendment under consideration. (Emphasis added).

Senator Matsunaga –

“Essentially, it accomplishes what we sought to achieve last year.  That is, marriage licenses will be limited to opposite sex couples, but coupled with the passage of HB No. 118, CD1, nontraditional couples will be provided access to substantially similar economic marital rights and benefits.”

The people of Hawaii will have an opportunity to definitively express their will on the issuance of marriage licenses. As legislators we are bound to acknowledge their power and abide by their will.

Senator Chumbley-

“I support this proposed constitutional amendment, Mr. President, because I support and believe in the right of the citizens of Hawaii to define their own constitution. I also trust that upon full and fair debate, our citizen, over time, will do the right thing.”

“The amendment before us today is as finely tailored as we could accomplish. The people will decide on the simple issue of whether marriage should be limited to couples of the opposite sex—the courts are not insulted, equal protection is not conditioned, and no religious or social dogma is adopted. Instead, and affirmative expression of our understanding of marriage is incorporated in the supreme law of the land.”

“Mr. President, as a Legislator, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, a document which I hold dear as a lawmaker and as a citizen. The preamble to our constitution states, ‘We reaffirm our belief in a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and with and understanding and compassionate heart towards all peoples of the earth, do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution of the State of Hawaii.”

Senator McCartney-

“So that the record is clear. Granting similar rights and benefits does not mean granting same sex marriage as some have alluded to in an effort to confuse the public. Our compromise package simply gives us the legal and constitutional abilities to limit marriage to man and woman and ensures that those who cannot be married under the law are afforded certain rights and benefits.”

Ayes, 25. Noes, none.

In summary, the legislature needs to acknowledge that the voters did amend the constitution with the intent to limit marriage to couples of the opposite sex. The current legislature needs to honor the legislative record, the people’s votes, and the Hawaii State Constitution.

McDermott said, ‘The people spoke on this issue in 1998 in a clear voice.  Conceding this decision to the Legislature is not what they want as confirmed by a recent survey conducted by QEV Analytics which showed that 70% of Hawaii’s voters believed that the definition of marriage is something that the people should decide.   So, let them decide again….my amendment in the House (HB5) will enable them to do just that.  We are the people’s house.

State Representative Bob McDermott (R) Ewa Beach, is leading the charge to “Let the people Decide” via a new constitutional amendment.  A former Marine and Gulf War Vet, McDermott is one of the organizing forces for a coalition of citizens, politicians, businessmen, and clergy in their attempt to stop the legalization of same-sex marriage.   McDermott, a father of 8 children, said, “This legislation is being done quickly and sneakily as they know the people, given the chance to speak, will not approve of same-sex marriage. “




  1. My, my, Mr. McDermott is quite the vicious christian. I am willing to bet he thinks Ted Cruz is on a mission from god. Hate is hate, any way you color it.

    • So ask the Governor, "Based on your reasoning that Same-Sex Marriage is a civil right, then how can you disenfranchise a bi-sexual from marrying the people he/she loves?"

      His response will be; "I fully expect a lawsuit to be filed in about a year."

    • You are totally incorrect. He speaks the truth. The Bible states that homosexuality is a sin. If you don't like it, then take it up with God and Jesus, not with Mr. McDermott and others who feel the same way.

      • Tried to take it up with God. Turns out he doesn't exist. Made for a pretty one-sided conversation (but on the plus side, I totally won it).

      • Doesn't matter what the Bible says. You can't push your ancient beliefs on others. Your freedom of religion extends to you the personal right of religion only. You can't use law to push your religion. Freedom from religion is just as valid as freedom of religion. You can't have one without the other.

      • I really don't mind breaking this to you, not all Christians are in agreement with the answer you pray you found.

  2. Mr. McDermott I am so happy that you have been able to live your life with your wife and 8 children. It's a great freedom to have. That's not what me and my partner of 30 years have been able to do. We both work in the medical field we have saved lives, and paid taxes just as you have but we have no rights like you and your wife have. I really can't understand what a marriage between to consenting adults could harm your life. Christians today hate so much and Jesus loved everyone. I have no hate for heterosexuals I just wished everyone could understand that we should have the same rights. Maybe one day

    • So Kathy parts of the state plan to benefit from this law. Those areas, will become Gay Chum, lots of business will cater for that business?

    • Notice Kathy's lasts posts are nearly a year ago? Maybe she's crazy & homeless? Maybe she attacked this church?
      8/1/14 Friday, police arrested a 62-year-old woman for breaking a window at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, near Don Quijote.
      Church officials said a homeless woman blocking a parking stall shattered a window with a metal pipe on Friday. The flying glass hit a parishioner inside."When she was asked to move she just turned violent and started going around the church trying to break into the church," said Keith Febrero with the church.

      Read more: http://www.kitv.com/news/a-dramatic-increase-in-v

  3. The problem with this world is if you aren't white and heterosexual you aren't anything important. Why should the people be able to vote whether or not me and my partner can get married. Did people vote whether or not you could get married. The constitution said we are all created equal yea fat chance only if your white and heterosexual

    • I'm asian, short, fat hetrosexual. Strangers say I look like Charlie Chan…..but I'm important to God like you & everyone on this world.

  4. 1998 amendment: gave the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples only

    2013 special session: gives the Legislature the power to decide if marriage includes all couples.

    McDermott: "According to settled law, the -> people’s perception <- of the meaning of a constitutional vote carries precedence over any other subordinate statutory consideration."

    If law depended on "people's perceptions" there would be no laws of any kind. McDermott missed his calling.

    • KHON2 reports on 11/2, a LGBT organization had Brian Schatz's wife speaking on behalf of him, gave notice well ahead of time. "
      SO HOW MUCH TAX DOLLARS went for her security & transportation?
      To ensure the right person is testifying, they are now checking IDs twice outside the auditorium and then again inside — especially after last week's incident.

      So is this "equal treatment" you like?

  5. This guy was there when they passed the law? Most of the others are dead or have been shown the door. I like how this guy says it was useful then but now we want you to ignore it. This guy seems like a real tool. Maybe it is time to show him the door.

  6. 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.

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