Circuit Judge Kevin Chang, who ruled December 3 that a ban on same-sex marriages violated the Hawaii state constitution, has put the ruling on hold pending a state appeal. Chang agreed with state attorneys that allowing same-sex couples to marry would be problematic in the event that Hawaii’s Supreme Court overturns his ruling. Attorney General Rick Eichor said he will file an appeal within 30 days, effectively sending the case back to the state Supreme Court which ruled in 1993 that a ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional unless there was a compelling state interest. Chang ruled earlier this week that the state had failed to show a compelling state interest to ban same-sex marriages.
In September, President Clinton signed into law the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which would allow states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. According to the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, some 15 states have passed legislation barring same-sex marriage or recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Seventeen other states have thrown out such measures. Massachusetts Gov. William Weld has said he considers DOMA unconstitutional and maintains same-sex couples married in Hawaii would “be entitled to all the benefits and burdens of marriage” in Massachusetts.
Human Rights Campaign spokesman David Smith said that lesbian and gay activists will work to overturn DOMA if the Hawaii ruling is upheld.