While Hawaii sits on the verge of sanctioning marriage or “domestic partnership” by couples of the same sex, opponents of same-sex unions are complaining about the potential societal impact of such unions and their cost to state and federal agencies. Peter Knight, a Republican member of the California Assembly and chief sponsor of the state’s bill prohibiting recognition of gay unions, said, “It’s not right to give same-sex couples the same economic benefits meant to aid families raising children.”
An equal protection clause in Hawaii’s liberal state constitution prohibits such denial of rights unless there is a “compelling state interest,” according to a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling. A lower court is expected to grant the marriage licenses by year’s end, ruling on a case to be reheard in July. This outlook has opponents pushing a state constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex unions. At a debate before the Iowa caucuses, five of the Republican presidential candidates pledged to oppose legalization of “same sex” marriages by either signing or delivering letters.
Hawaii Gov. Benjamin Cayetano supports a separate plan of key legislators to push a measure next year approving expanded benefits for any co-habitating couples, regardless of gender, and including siblings.