22222222A case for the ERA: Marriage equality
Falling in love and raising a child. Worrying about school drop offs and pickups. Who’s going to get groceries for dinner. Doctor appointments when your little one is sick. Attending soccer matches or dance recitals between work and other commitments. These are the small, every day moments that make up the basic building blocks of a life together as a couple for so many.
Yet for Tammy Rodrigues and Antoinette Pregil, these moments together didn’t feel complete until they could say their wedding vows and share legal parental rights for Antoinette’s daughter, who they had been raising together for nearly a decade. When Rodrigues and Pregil joined two other gay couples to obtain marriage licenses from the Hawaii Department of Health in 1990, they expected to make news when their request was denied. What happened next not only made news, it made history as the three couples spent years fighting in court for their legal right to get married under the Hawaii state constitution.
Using the Hawaii Constitution and their state Equal Rights Amendment, attorney Dan Foley, Rodrigues and Pregil, and the four other plaintiffs made the argument that denying marriage licenses to gay couples was a violation of their privacy and equal protection on the basis of sex. The ups and downs of their case as it traveled through the court system would make anyone dizzy, but they were ultimately successful in securing for the couples, and all Hawaiians, a right to marry regardless of sexual orientation.
Though the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) wouldn’t be challenged until 2013, the court case in Hawaii led the way for same sex couples in the United States to seek the legal protections and benefits of marriage, just as straight couples had enjoyed for centuries.
The Hawaii Equal Rights Amendment helped to ensure that those small moments that make up daily life for so many couples could be codified and protected under the law for any couple who sought them – even two women in love and raising a child together.
Once the ERA is published, the Equal Rights Amendment will protect everyone’s right to marry the person of their choosing.
We all deserve to be able to build a life with the person we love, regardless of their sex. Help us finally publish the ERA to the Constitution so we can finally protect true marriage equality.