In light of the marriage amendment, HRS § 572-1 must be given full force and effect." Because the remedy sought by the plaintiffs – access to marriage licenses – was no longer available, this reversed Chang's ruling and remanded the case for entry of judgment in favor of the defendant.
Following a 1993 decision by the Hawaii State Supreme Court that found the state's refusal to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses discriminatory, voters in 1998 approved a constitutional amendment granting the Hawaii State Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples, which made it impossible to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
After the case was dismissed by the trial court the couples appealed to the state supreme court.
In the plurality opinion delivered by Chief Justice Ronald Moon in 1993, the court ruled that while the right to privacy in the Hawaii state constitution does not include a fundamental right to same-sex marriage, denying marriage to same-sex couples constituted discrimination based on sex in violation of the right to equal protection guaranteed by the state's Constitution.
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Accordingly, whether or not in the past it was violative of the equal protection clause in the foregoing respect, HRS § 572-1 no longer is.
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Same-sex marriage in Hawaii has been legal since December 2, 2013.
The court remanded the case to the trial court, instructing that "in accordance with the 'strict scrutiny' standard, the burden will rest on Lewin to overcome the presumption that HRS § 572-1 [the state's marriage statute] is unconstitutional by demonstrating that it furthers compelling state interests and is narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgments of constitutional rights." In 1996, Judge Kevin S. Chang ruled that the state did not meet its evidentiary burden.
It did not prove that the state had a compelling interest in denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples and even assuming that it had it had not proven that HRS § 572-1 was narrowly tailored to avoid unnecessary abridgement of constitutional rights.