HONOLULU (AP) – A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling quietly ended a last-ditch court fight against a Hawaii law allowing same-sex marriage.
The court issued an opinion earlier this month declaring moot a lawsuit filed by a Hawaii couple seeking to marry before the state legalized gay marriage last year. Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid filed the suit in 2011, arguing that they wanted to be married and not simply enter into a civil union.
The couple sought to dismiss the case after they were legally allowed to get married, but opponents of the law fought to keep the lawsuit alive, with the hope that a court would rule the state Legislature didn’t have the authority to allow such marriages.
“We’re disappointed in the ruling because we think it’s premature,” said Ken Connelly, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Hawaii Family Forum, a group that intervened in the case as a gay marriage opponent and wanted the lawsuit to remain.
The ruling was premature because Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott’s lawsuit in state court challenging the law is still pending, Connelly said.
Hawaii Attorney General David Louie called it the right decision.
The couple’s attorney, John D’Amato, said the dismissal doesn’t come as much of a surprise but provides some vindication.
“They have always gone on with their lives,” D’Amato said. “They were happy when same sex marriage was enacted.”
The women changed their last name to Jackson-Kleid after they got married. They have a daughter.
Gary Bradley joined as a plaintiff in their lawsuit because he wanted to marry Paul Perry, an Australian citizen.
Bradley and Perry were among the first couples to marry in a midnight ceremony after Hawaii’s law went into effect.
The ruling vacates a U.S. District Court judge’s 2012 ruling against gay marriage.
“Although the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Jackson was a procedural one only, as a believer in marriage equality, the governor is pleased that the Ninth Circuit vacated the federal district court ruling that had upheld Hawaii’s former ban on same sex marriage,” said Deputy Attorney General Girard Lau, who represented Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the case.