Hawaii couples sue state over civil unions

Hawaii couples sue state over civil unions
Sean Smith
Sean Smith
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle
Jennifer Pizer
Jennifer Pizer

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sean Smith and his same-sex partner, Kale Taylor, have been together for five years. They share an apartment and their finances.

"We're definitely a committed couple. We decided a long time ago that we're going to stay together," Smith said.

The couple is also together in a lawsuit filed by six gay and lesbian couples against Governor Linda Lingle over her decision to veto the civil unions bill.

The lawsuit by Lambda and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii wants to reverse the governor's action.

It alleges the state failed to provide equal rights to gays and lesbians. The plaintiffs want a court order granting them civil unions.

The lawsuit cites a 1993 ruling in a case involving Hawaii's constitution.

"It said that when the state denies protections to gay and lesbian couples, that is sex discrimination.  And the state has to have a very good reason for discriminating," Lamda senior counsel Jennifer Pizer said.

Lingle has suggested gays and lesbians lobby lawmakers to expand same-sex rights under Hawaii's reciprocal beneficiary law.

She said a decision on civil unions should be put to a vote.

Smith and Taylor disagree.

"There's a lot of holes in the reciprocal beneficiaries law and the gradual approach has not produced the results," Smith said.

The case is now in the court's hands.

Six same-sex couples have taken the first step down a long legal road.

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