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Hawaii same-sex couple sues for right to marry

A lesbian couple filed suit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Hawaii [official website] challenging the state's denial of same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) [official profile] signed [JURIST report] a same-sex civil unions bill [SB 232 text, PDF] into law in February. The legislation, set to go into effect on January 1, 2012, extends the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union, but plaintiffs Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid claim they are still being denied a "fundamental right" to marry under Hawaii's marriage law [text], which restricts marriage to a man and a woman. Jackson and Kleid applied for a marriage license last month and were denied. They claim the state is depriving them of their Due Process and Equal Protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment [text] to the US Constitution. A spokesperson for Abercrombie declined to comment on the suit [Star Advertiser report] and said the complaint is currently being reviewed.

Same-sex marriage and civil unions remain controversial throughout the US. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is currently mulling Proposition 8 [JURIST report], California's same-sex marriage ban. Last month a New York state court judge ruled that a lawsuit challenging the state's recognition of same-sex marriage can proceed [JURIST report]. In September, the North Carolina legislature approved putting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST report] on a statewide ballot to be voted on in May. Same-sex marriage is currently recognized in six US states—Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York—and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].

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