Anyone out there worried that the state Legislature’s upcoming Oct. 28 special session that’s slated to consider a bill legalizing same-sex marriage may be in some way unconstitutional (either state or federal) can rest easier, Attorney General David M. Louie said on Oct. 15.
“The authority to enact legislation recognizing marriages between two individuals of the same sex is vested in the Hawaii State Legislature,” Louie said in his office’s 10-page opinion. “No amendment to the Hawaii Constitution is necessary to give the Legislature the authority to enact the Proposed Bill, should the Legislature choose to pass it.”
The AG issued the opinion in response to questions posed by state Senator Les Ihara, D- Kaimuki, who has long supported legalizing of same-sex marriage. In fact, the whole AG opinion was in fact a letter (dated Oct. 14) to Ihara.
“You informed us that your questions arise from arguments made by opponents of the marriage equality bill circulated by the Governor’s Office on September 9, 2013 (the Proposed Bill),” Louie wrote in the letter to Ihara which contained his office’s legal opinion. “According to your request, you note that opponents to the Proposed Bill contend that it cannot be enacted without an amendment to the Hawaii Constitution that specifically authorizes the Legislature to pass the Proposed Bill.”
In fact, Louie’s opinion notes, there’s nothing in either the Hawaii or U.S. Constitutions that would prohibit the state Legislature from allowing same-sex couples to enjoy all the benefits of marriage currently given to heterosexual couples.
“Enacting legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry is not inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution either,” Louie wrote in his opinion. “Under the federal system, generally a State government may choose by its own laws to recognize rights greater than those required by the U.S. Constitution.”