Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Double take (of taxpayer money) on gay marriage lawsuit

by Larry Geller

The Star-Advertiser reported in breaking news today that the state will defend against the lawsuit filed in federal court by a lesbian couple claiming that they are denied their rights under the Constitution because Hawaii will grant them a civil union but not the same marriage as heterosexual couples are entitled to. At the same time, Governor Abercrombie said that he will not defend it.

So will taxpayer money be used to pay additional legal expenses for this lawsuit should it go forward?

What will a judge think of the simultaneous defend/don’t defend position the state is taking?

Will Hawaii end up on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report?

More important, why not give up the lawsuit now, and also the one before the 9th circuit that would deny Micronesians medical care, and do the right thing?

Of course, then Hawaii would just end up on Fox News (sigh).


Doing the right thing sounds like the appropriate action.Why does everything have to be so difficult?

I was one (of many) who opposed allowing opposite sex couples the option of getting civil unions. The advocates for it argued it was more "inclusive." I argued it obscured the legal point that the rights and benefits under Hawaii law of a civil union were IDENTICAL to that of marriage. Allowing "straight" couples to be able to choose between the two suggested there was a meanigful distinction and, if so, it was almost inevitable that people would conclude CUs were a second-class set of rights. (They are, SOCIALLY and under Federal law. But not under state law.)

So I find it ironic that that flaw in the bill may now lead a court to award full "marriage" equality, especially if the Governor refuses to defend that part of the law. Curiouser and curiouser.

A second irony: In my recollection -- and I am more than willing to be corrected by someone with a better memory, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa was one of the people arguing to include heterosexual couples under the law. She was also the one who, for a while, promoted the conspiracy theory that gay activists were passing a constitutionally defective civil union bill in order to expose the state to a lawsuit which would result in full marriage equality. How ironic if it is a clause SHE insisted upon which leads to the result she feared.

I haven't yet read the briefs in this case. Still, I find it absurd that the same AG's office will be both defending the DOH and representing the administration against the DOH. The so-called firewall doesn't exist.

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