Couple sues state to get same sex marriage rights

Published: Dec. 8, 2011 at 10:31 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2011 at 12:49 AM HST
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Natasha Jackson & Janin Kleid
Natasha Jackson & Janin Kleid
Jackson & Kleid wear wedding rings
Jackson & Kleid wear wedding rings
John D'Amato
John D'Amato
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A local couple is suing the state in order to get marriage rights.  They say a civil union is not enough and they plan to fight the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

In 1998 State voters passed a constitutional amendment keeping marriage between a man and a woman.  But the couple isn't worried citing the U.S. constitution is on their side.

Former radio DJ Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid have been a couple four years.  They wear wedding rings and want to make their commitment legal.  But when they went to get a marriage license at the state Department of Health they were denied.

"We really want the chance to get married. We want the chance to have the legal right as well as the social recognition of us being in a committed relationship," said Natasha Jackson, Plaintiff.

The state recently emerged from a long debate over civil unions.  That law goes into effect in January.  But that's not good enough for the couple.

"I was looking at stuff on Google because that's what we do in our generation and there are 1,138 rights to marriage where there aren't as many to civil unions they're just different they're completely different," said Jackson.

"Civil union doesn't do, it just doesn't do the same thing," said Janin Kleid, Plaintiff.

The couple has not been in contact with any of the gay and lesbian organizations and is filing the lawsuit on their own.

Their attorney John D'Amato argues the state law reserving marriage to only heterosexual couples is discriminatory and violates the 14th amendment.  He says it would not require another constitutional amendment to change the law.

"It would just require a judge to look at that law and say yeah plaintiffs you're right it does violate your rights to due process and equal protection under the federal constitution," said D'Amato. "The state's denying Janin and Natasha the right to marry deprives them of a fundamental right and is unjustly discriminatory."

Today Governor Neil Abercrombie, who signed the civil union law in February, responded to the new lawsuit naming him as a defendant.

"If they want to pursue that through the legal channels that's fine but I work through the legislative channels. I think that everyone is very very happy with our civil union's law. I'm going to put it into effect. I signed it. We're moving forward as quickly as we can and this January we'll be putting it into effect. If there are changes to be made we'll take it up in the course of the legislative sessions to come. I'm very very pleased with where we are, where we're going and where we're headed."

The couple filed the lawsuit in district court yesterday.  Their first court appearance won't be until March.

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