6 same-sex couples in Hawaii sue following civil unions veto

Posted by Michael Niese of the Associated Press and posted on buffalonews.com:

"Six gay couples in Hawaii are filing a lawsuit Thursday asking for the same rights as married couples, three weeks after Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a civil unions measure for same-sex couples.

"The lawsuit doesn't seek the titles of 'marriage' or 'civil unions' for gay partners. Instead, it requests that the court system extend them the benefits and responsibilities of marriage based on the Hawaii Constitution's prohibition against sex discrimination.

"'We continue to be discriminated against,' said plaintiff Suzanne King, who has been in a relationship with her partner for 29 years. 'We're a family unit, and we live our lives just like everyone else, but we aren't treated the same.'

"The legal action in state court comes as a response to the Republican governor's veto July 6, when she said voters should decide whether to reserve marriage for couples of a man and a woman.

..."The state grants some rights to gay couples through its reciprocal beneficiaries system.

"But they lack the same legal privileges and obligations of adoption, child support, alimony and access to family court, said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, which is bringing the case along with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"'This case is not about marriage. It's about the right of same-sex couples to at least have a system that is understandable and complete,' Pizer said. 'The state's equality guarantee at least has to mean same-sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities, even if it's segmented off into a system that isn't as respected, understood and revered as marriage.'

"The case likely won't be settled until it reaches the Hawaii Supreme Court, or if state lawmakers and the next governor approve a new civil unions bill, Pizer said."

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