Two Hawaii lawyers are watching closely as the same-sex marriage debate takes center stage at the Supreme Court.
The court’s decision could have an impact on a Hawaii case.
Last summer, Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid made news by wanting to marry in Hawaii so they can obtain federal benefits.
The defense of marriage act is at the heart of arguments in front of the U.S. Supreme Court justices.
“Sets up a federal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, which allows the federal government then to deny federal benefits to same-sex couples that are legally married in states like Massachusetts and New York,” attorney Clyde Wadsworth said.
Wadsworth represents Jackson and Kleid.
But is marriage something to be regulated by states or by the federal government?
“Marriage is a state legal matter, but Congress has passed a lot of laws that tie certain duties and benefits to being married,” attorney Jim Hochberg said.
Hochberg’s on the other side. He argues that marriage has a narrow definition.
“Marriage is and has always been a duty that we have to society to have children. Because it is a biological fact that children can only be created by a man and a woman,” Hochberg said.
In Hawaii, we don’t have same-sex marriage, but we do have civil unions, which Wadsworth argued in federal court isn’t good enough.
“A second class institution that has been created that denies, particularly same-sex couples the status and the social significance of marriage, which is very important in this country. In fact, the Supreme Court has called it a fundamental right in the past,” Wadsworth said.
Judge Alan Kay upheld Hawaii’s law preventing same-sex marriages, but that case has been appealed.
“It’s currently stayed, meaning it is on hold, waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision in these two cases because their rulings could have implications could have an impact for our case,” Wadsworth said.
The Supreme Court’s ruling is expected later this summer.