In Hawaii, on November 7, a circuit court judge allowed the state’s legislature to pass Hawaii’s new same-sex marriage law. This makes Hawaii the fifteenth state along with Washington, D.C. to allow same-sex marriages, with other states like Illinois pending this week. Hawaii Representative Bob McDermott had requested a restraining order against passage of the new law based on 1998 legislation granting the Legislature the authority to limit marriages to only heterosexual unions. Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled against the plaintiffs saying that the Legislature only had the power to reserve marriages to heterosexual couples if it chose to do so. The following day, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law allowing the state to perform same-sex marriages as early as Dec. 2.
Closer to home is the fight in New Jersey that brought same sex-marriage to the state last month making it the fourteenth state to legalize the practice. After State Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson declared the illegality of New Jersey’s civil union law in September, the state brought suit. The Christie Administration sought to temporarily halt performance of same-sex marriages, but on October 18 the New Jersey Supreme Court denied the state’s request. Since October 21, 2013, New Jersey has been required to perform same-sex marriages, with the Christie Administration abandoning its fight to overturn the decision.
Since midnight on October 21, many couples have clamored to receive marriage licenses from the state of New Jersey. This final outcome was an unexpected turn of events, and it’s an example of how quickly things have changed in this battle. Up until recently, the state had claimed that a same-sex marriage law should only come from ballot initiative. Governor Christie’s firm stance on blocking same-sex marriage seemed to communicate that there was no way it was going to change in New Jersey without a ballot as long as he had veto power. However, a Rutgers Eagleton poll, noted in the New York Times, showed that a majority of respondents, including a majority of Christie supporters did not want him to go through with the appeal, which was ultimately blocked.
Couples, like Douglas Bauer and Lewis Rossi of Lawrence in Mercer County, see this is a validation that their marriage is equal to that of heterosexual marriages. “When I die, I now have the satisfaction that my money and property will pass to Lewis automatically, just as it is with straight couples,” Bauer told the Times of Trenton. “Now we can enjoy that, too.”