By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com December 09 2011 4:06 PM ET
A lesbian couple from Honolulu are suing the state of Hawaii for the right to marry after being told they could not file for a marriage license by the state health department.
Natasha N. Jackson, and Janin Kleid filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Wednesday, claiming that their rights to due process and equal protection as guaranteed in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were violated. The defendants named are Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Loretta J. Fuddy, director of the state health department.
The lawsuit comes as Hawaii's long-battled civil union law goes into effect in January. The state approved a gay marriage ban in 1998, designating marriage only for heterosexual couples.
Jackson and Kleid also argue that they must be allowed to marry in order to access certain federal benefits, according to the Associated Press. The women have been together for four years and through that time have endured their share of financial and health-related hardships. Most recently, Jackson was unable to insure Kleid under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), a federal law that allows terminated employees to continue in their employer's health care plan.