Hawaii lawsuit shows civil unions help redefine marriage

Governor Neil Abercrombie CNA US Catholic News 3 6 12 Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie

A Hawaiian lawsuit asking a federal court to instate “gay marriage” shows that the recognition of same-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions is just a stepping stone to redefining marriage, several critics say.

“Same-sex unions and domestic partnerships are never a compromise, because they’re creating pseudo-marriages which confuse and undermine the understanding of young people about what marriage is all about,” William B. May, president of the California-based Catholics for the Common Good, told CNA March 6.

Hawaiian Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he will not defend several parts of a state law defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman against a legal challenge from a same-sex couple living on east Oahu.

He said he agrees with their December lawsuit’s charge that not granting marriage rights to homosexual partners violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.

The suit also claims that the state’s new civil unions law, which took effect Jan. 1, is unequal because an opposite-sex couple may contract a marriage or a civil union, while a same-sex couple may only contract a civil union.

May said the legal challenge is similar to that mounted in California based on its domestic partnership laws.

California Supreme Court judges reasoned that since same-sex couples “already had the rights and privileges of marriage, but not the word, then the word was important for equal treatment,” May said.

“Going the domestic partnership and civil union route is just a stepping stone to the civil redefinition of marriage,” May stated.

The Hawaii Family Forum, represented by lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, is petitioning for permission to intervene against the legal challenge.

“Society should protect and strengthen marriage, not undermine it as this lawsuit clearly seeks to do,” Holly Carmichael, Alliance Defense Fund litigation counsel, said March 2.

“Anyone who believes so-called ‘civil unions’ will preserve marriage need only look at this lawsuit and countless others. Civil unions are a Trojan Horse used by activists to undermine marriage, not protect it,” she said.

“Hawaii’s marriage statute and constitutional amendment uphold marriage, and we are seeking to give those protections an adequate defense.”

James Hochberg, an ADF-allied attorney who is local counsel or the Hawaii Family Forum, said Hawaii has been fighting against the redefinition of marriage since 1993.

“Our state should not now succumb to demands that we ignore marriage as society’s time-tested way to bless as many children as possible with both a mom and a dad. Marriage expresses the truth that men and women bring distinct, irreplaceable gifts to family life.”

May also emphasized the need to recognize the reality of marriage between a man and a woman.

Marriage, he said, “creates an institution that unites kids with their moms and dads.”

“When it’s redefined merely as a committed relationship, there is no longer any public institution that connects kids with their moms and dads.”

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Under these circumstances, he warned, “it becomes discriminatory to promote that unique relationship, to promote men and women marrying before they have children. They have to be taught in schools that there is no relationship between marriage and children and family.”

May observed that when same-sex unions are legally equivalent to marriage, “gay rights groups maintain that it’s discriminatory to promote one kind of family over another or to promote one kind of relationship over another.”

For those who believe public policy and school curriculum should promote “the unique relationship between a man and a woman,” the proposal for civil unions or domestic partnerships is “really no compromise.”

The consequences of not promoting marriage are already apparent and “horrendous,” he added, citing statistics showing that unmarried births to women under 30 are now a majority.

“More and more children are deprived of fathers. This is wrong. We need to promote the unique value that marriage brings to our society,” May said.

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