HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Same sex couples rang in the New Year with the ability to join in a civil union. Now momentum is gaining toward same sex marriage as well.
Two women are suing the state because they were denied a marriage license. In response Governor Abercrombie said, "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."
"I think the governor is positioning himself to lay the ground work to try and address this in the long term. I think it was inevitable that this question was raised with regards to marriage following civil unions I don't think people expected it to be quite this quick," said State Representative Chris Lee, (D) Kailua, Waimanalo.
Some lawmakers are thinking about overturning the ban on gay marriage.
"This year we're clearly too far along in the process to do anything and I don't think anybody has that at the front of their agenda but in time it will come back to us," said Rep. Lee. "Certainly I think the winds are blowing in that direction."
"I'm disappointed but not surprised. I've been saying for a couple weeks what the governor and attorney general would do and that is to sell out the people of Hawaii and to disregard the laws of this state," said State Senator Sam Slom, (R) Hawaii Kai, Kahala. "Their passions and sympathies in the direction are quite clear it's unfortunate however that it does not support the majority of the people in the state."
Traditional marriage advocates aren't happy with the Governor's comments. Yet the lone Republican in the State Senate thinks marriage strictly between a man and woman is in jeopardy.
"I think it will be totally undermined and we'll have same sex marriage which was always the goal of those people who for a decade said oh no we don't want same sex marriage we just want equality," said Sen. Slom.
There's also some disagreement on the process whether lawmakers can go ahead and redefine marriage on their own or if it would need another constitutional amendment and public vote.
"The constitution doesn't need to be changed in Hawaii. The last constitutional amendment allows the legislature to define marriage as they see fit so theoretically it could fall back on the legislature without going forward and actually amending the constitution itself," said Rep. Lee.
"I don't think they can redefine what has already been decided in the constitution as far as equal protection," said Shawn Luiz, Attorney representing two churches in a lawsuit against civil unions.