July 26, 2012
By Jacob Combs
The AP reports that at an initial hearing Tuesday in the Hawaii marriage equality case Jackson v. Abercrombie, lawyers for Gov. Neil Abercrombie argued that he should remain in the case as a defendant even though he agrees with the plaintiffs that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. District Court Judge Alan Kay also heard arguments on the merits of the case, who argue that Hawaii’s civil unions keep the state’s gay and lesbian couples from equal protection under the laws.
Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group that Judge Kay allowed to intervene in the lawsuit as defendants after Abercrombie declined to defend the law, argued in court that the governor should not be a party to the suit because he is not the governmental officer who oversees the issuance of marriage licenses. Abercrombie’s position of simultaneously supporting the lawsuit while opposing the law puts him in a similar position to the federal government in the various DOMA cases being litigated across the country.
Kay told the participants in Tuesday’s hearing that he is leaning towards allowing Abercrombie to remain in the case as a party, although he made no official ruling on the matter. He also issued no ruling on the two sides requests for a conclusion to the case without further oral argument since the material facts of the case are not disputed by the two sides.
At the hearing, Clyde Wadsworth, an attorney for Equality Hawaii and Hawaii LGBT, both of which filed friend of the court briefs in the case, noted the Hawaii case’s similarity to the Prop 8 trial in Calfornia. The Jackson case also resembles another case in Nevada, Sevcik v. Sandoval, which is challenging that state’s domestic partnership laws under the U.S. Constitution.