ANALYSIS: DOMA Resolution: Forerunner of Adjustments in Hawaii?

Another day, another Supreme Court ruling, but this one sets off widespread celebrations.

Today, a day after judges urged Congressional Democrats to call for voting reform, the Supreme Court ruled out a provision in federal law in defense of marriage that denied married gay couples federal tax, pension and health benefits.

The verdict came in a case of 84-year-old Edith Windsor who was charged $ 363,053 in taxes by her 40-year-old partner on the estate her partner left because her marriage was not legally recognized.

Today’s ruling not only opens those benefits to more than 100,000 legally married gay and lesbian couples, but is also expected to spark calls for same-sex marriage legalization in roughly three-quarters of states where such bans exist.

The first is likely California, which took a roller coaster ride with Proposition 8. The referendum to ban same-sex marriages, narrowly approved by voters in 2008, was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in the Hollingsworth case against Perry.

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In a second lawsuit, the Supreme Court today upheld that court’s decision, paving the way for these ceremonies to resume in the Golden State.

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(Because it has not been challenged, another section of the DOMA that states that no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in other states remains intact. However, U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa said today that she is addressing others the reintroduction of respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal this DOMA provision.)

It remains to be seen what impact today’s decisions will have on Hawaii, which has taken a tumultuous path with regard to same-sex unions – and where lawmakers anticipated possible changes based on today’s decisions.

Discussion of the matter began in 1990 with the filing of a lawsuit arguing that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages was against the Constitution of Hawaii. The case reached the Hawaii Supreme Court, which in 1993 asked the state to provide a compelling reason for the ban.

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The ensuing debate was nationalized, leading to the 1996 DOMA Congress and dozens of laws and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage in other states.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian law passed legislation restricting marriage to same-sex couples. In 1998, more than 60% of the state’s electorate voted in favor of a constitutional amendment approving this law, thereby closing the 1990 case.

In recent years, however, the view of gay marriages has changed in the state of Aloha.

A law passed two years ago established civil unions for couples of the same and different sex and gave them the same rights as married couples.

Last year a lesbian couple decided to challenge Hawaii’s ban on gay marriages in federal court.

Although the Department of Health tried to uphold Hawaiian law, Governor Neil Abercrombie sided with plaintiffs Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid.

During its most recent session, the legislature passed a concurrent resolution calling for the Dean of Law School at the University of Hawaii to establish a task force to assess the “social, economic and religious implications of implementing equality between women and men in Hawaii.” ” to investigate.

A report by the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee on the measure noted “rapid changes in the legal and social landscape across the country regarding marriage equality”.

The report said that the task force’s work should enable lawmakers to stand ready to address the “legal realities” for same-sex couples, “especially after the US Supreme Court ruled in Windsor and Perry has ”- the two cases were decided today.

Abercrombie today welcomed the court’s decision, making it clear that it would support legislative action to lift Hawaii’s ban on gay marriage.

“In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and equality among people and that everyone has the same rights and obligations as everyone else, including the ability to get married,” he said.

Abercrombie said he believes the DOMA ruling supports his position on the Jackson case – now in the Ninth Circle Court of Appeals – that the constitution’s equal treatment clause requires same-sex marriage in all states, including Hawaii.

“I will continue to work to ensure justice and equality for all,” he said.

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