Keola & Ethan

August 14, 2013

Keola and EthanKeola, who was born and raised in Hawai`i, and Ethan, a transplant from Boston, have been together for nearly six years.

Like many couples, they have a furry family — with two cats and a dog that bring them hours of laughter and joy (and sometimes angst). They’re involved in their community — with Keola actively participating in his union and his church and Ethan serving on the Board of a non-profit organization. They love hiking, picnicking on the beach, going to the theater, and spending time with extended family and friends.

Although Ethan and Keola aren’t that different from other couples, they’re treated differently by the laws of our state.

Last July, Keola and Ethan stood up in front of their family and friends and pledged to love each other forever. It was a beautiful and meaningful day, but because of Hawai`i’s laws, they didn’t go home with a marriage license.

In Hawai`i, committed same-sex couples like Ethan and Keola are only allowed to enter into a civil union, a second-class status that denies them thousands of federal level protections for their family.

Since the Supreme Court struck down the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and extended equal protection under the law to all legally married couples, the weaknesses of a civil union have become clearer than ever. Hawai`i couples like Keola and Ethan are denied access to the federal safety net because our legislators have not yet extended the freedom to marry to all loving couples.

With polls showing that 54 percent of Hawai`i voters support marriage equality, it’s time for our legislators to act. Loving couples in the Aloha State shouldn’t have to be treated as second-class any longer.