Hawaii Gov. Won't Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban

By Nick Visser

Originally published on Advocate.com February 22 2012 2:15 PM ET

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has refused to defend a constitutional ban against gay marriage in light of a pending lawsuit against the state’s Department of Health, which grants marriage licenses. The state Attorney General’s office said Tuesday it had filed separate responses for both the governor and Health Department director Loretta Fuddy, whose office will be defending its distribution of the licenses, according to the Hawaii Reporter.

A law allowing civil unions for gay couples was passed last year, but Hawaii has had a constitutional amendment against gay marriage since 1998.

“Under current law, a heterosexual couple can choose to enter into a marriage or a civil union,” Abercrombie told the Hawaii Reporter. “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.”

Fuddy said her office is charged with implementing the law as it was passed, and as such, will defend the department’s practices.

“Absent any ruling to the contrary by competent judicial authority regarding constitutionality, the law will be enforced. Because I am being sued for administering the law, I will also defend it,” Fuddy said.