THE "HAWAII'S FUTURE TODAY"
Hawaii's Future Today appears to be mainly a Christian religious
organization composed primarily of members of the Roman Catholic Church
and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On about 1996-OCT-11, they filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court")
brief in the civil case #91-1394-05 before The Honorable Kevin S.C. Chang,
Judge of the Circuit court of the First Circuit, State of
Hawaii. Plaintiffs are a committed lesbian couple, Tammy Rodrigues and
Antoinette Pregil and a committed gay couple Pat Lagon & Joseph Mellillo.
Defendant is Lawrence H. Miike, in his official capacity as Director of the
Department of Health of Hawaii. That department contains the office
which issues marriage licenses. The brief was written by James E.T. Koshiba,
the HFT lawyer.
The state Supreme Court had determined that the denial of a
marriage license to gays and lesbians is a clear case of gender
discrimination. A man and woman who otherwise qualified could
obtain a license; two women or two men could not. Because of
Hawaii's civil rights laws, this is clearly unconstitutional. The
Court then asked a lower court to determine if there were
overriding societal concerns why such discrimination should be
Excerpts of the brief follow:
Hawaii's Future Today
"Hawaii's Future Today ('HFT') is a nonprofit organization made up
of individuals who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to
community and public service. Members span a broad spectrum of ethnic,
political and religious backgrounds, and include community volunteers,
business leaders, professionals, church leaders and other members
of the community. HFT's single purpose is to maintain the character of the
Hawaiian community that parents, children and visitors from around the world
HFT Summary of Court Case
"...this case may be stated relatively simply: Given the
Hawaii Supreme Court's mandate, should this Court order a radical reform
in the basic institution of marriage, jettisoning long-recognized cultural
values and drastically redefining the fundamental structure of our society?
Homosexuality not a Protected Class
The HFT brief cites a number of court cases, including some before the
United States Supreme Court, which "have squarely or implicitly held
that homosexuality is not a suspect classification deserving of heightened
protection under the Equal Protection Clause."
Compelling State Interest
Because of the mandate given to the lower court by the
Hawaiian Supreme Court, the HFT confined "its analysis before this
Court to the question of compelling governmental interest....Indeed, there
are numerous cases across the nation and in Hawaii in which strict scrutiny
has been applied and the state has been vindicated because the courts have
recognized significant and important societal interests founded upon the
particular state law or regulation in question." They list
Comity is a word with multiple meanings: courteous
behavior; courts in one jurisdiction recognizing decisions
by courts in other jurisdictions, etc. It is not clear which
meaning is intended here.
||the historical and time-honored protection of traditional marriage as the
fundamental structure in Hawaiian society that advances basic societal goals
||the protection of children;
||others, not listed
They decided to concentrate solely on the "protection of traditional marriage"
Expert testimony relatively unimportant
"...the Court may well be aided in its constitutional analysis
by the evidence presented by the parties at trial or by the opinions and studies
of various experts. However, as in many other constitutional law cases of great
societal importance, expert testimony and empirical studies need not be the
Previous court cases involving compelling societal interests
They cite analogous cases in which courts decided to overrule basic
constitutional guarantees (freedom of speech, privacy, etc.)
because of overriding societal concerns:
||anti-picketing ordinances in residential areas because of the historical
and long-entrenched interests of privacy and safety in the home.
||nudity prohibitions based upon the historically recognized
interest "of protecting societal order and morality"
||"no political speech zones" around election polls because of the
"wide-spread and time-tested" traditions of eliminating intimidation
and election fraud.
||discriminatory enforcement of felony motor vehicle statutes because of
grave and long-recognized "societal values" in protecting individuals
||tax exemptions for religious entities based upon an unbroken historical
practice that was "not something to be lightly cast
||prayer in state legislatures because of its "unambiguous and unbroken
history of more than 200 years" and because it has
"become part of the fabric of our society."
Societal interests in denying same-sex marriage
"Some societal institutions are so important, some basic
structures so crucial, and some fundamental relationships so inherently
intertwined in day-to-day living, that their protection is a compelling
governmental interest in and of itself: We are dealing here with legislation
which involves one of the basic civil rights of man. Marriage and procreation
are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the
"In this litigation, plaintiffs are not suing merely to gain benefits
similar to those provided to married couples, nor are they simply asking
to have their homosexual relationships recognized in some form or another
by the State. Rather, they are seeking to alter the definition of marriage
itself---to make marriage into something it has never been before, and to
force the State to radically change the fundamental institution which
historically has laid at the heart of all human, family, and social
"If plaintiffs' view were accepted, marriage in Hawaii would mean something
that it has never meant before. The historic and time-honored institution
which has been recognized as the foundation of our community would be
"In perpetuating the family as the basis of the Hawaiian community,
marriage has been expressly or implicitly defined as a union between one
man and one woman since at least 1846."
"...in 1994 a full 68% of the Hawaiian population opposed the recognition of
homosexual marriage." (1,2)
"Traditional marriage lies at the very cornerstone of Hawaiian society.
Its compelling nature is evident in all aspects of daily life. To be sure,
the state may tolerate and even in some instances encourage other human
relationships, but there can be no dispute that marriage between one man and
one woman is special -- both in its definition and in the benefits it provides.
This Court should rule in favor of the State and find Hawaii's
prohibition on homosexual marriage is supported by a compelling governmental
||Many of the statements in this brief could have been used
without alteration a generation ago to condemn to mixed-race marriages.
||The report implies that that marriage in Hawaii has always meant one man
and one woman. Yet the author must have been aware that Aikane, close
male societal and sexual relationships, were an accepted part of ancient
Hawaiian culture, before the arrival of the Christian missionaries in the
||They seem to regard the concept of same-sex marriages as an attack on
traditional, heterosexual marriages. They even imply that legalizing them might
threaten the survival of the human race. This argument might have some
merit if sexual orientation were easily changed or if the state only had
a limited number of marriage licenses to dispense.
||They have not developed an argument which is related to the
legal point under debate in this case: how a decision by the
state to allow marriages by persons of all sexual orientations would
somehow damage "traditional" heterosexual marriages or society
||Their main argument seems to be that gays and lesbians
should not be allowed to marry because the state has never
allowed it in the past. i.e. any change to the institution of
marriage must be inherently bad.
||We fail to see the importance of public opinion in this case. A poll taken
in the 1950's concerning the preservation of racial segregation would have
produced similar results. So would one conducted during the
1960's on confining marriage to same-race couples.
||Marriage is vitally important to most committed couples. It is a
state so intimate that it effects all parts of their life, both as
individuals and as a couple. The state must have overwhelming
concerns before it denies two loving, committed adults the right to marry.
No such concerns have been shown in this brief, or in the trial
itself. We believe that no such concerns exist.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 1991-APR-24, 1993-JUN-19,
Honolulu Advertiser, 1994-FEB-28, 1994-AUG-4