Rich-Vaughn-Blog-Hawaii-Marriage-Equality

State That Launched Movement Passes Same-Sex Marriage

The celebrations continue, as Hawaii this week became the 15th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, following close behind New Jersey as the 14th. The Illinois legislature approved same-sex marriage a week before the Hawaii vote; however, Governor has Pat Quinn has not yet signed the Illinois bill into law. He has said he will sign and is expected to do so later this month.

The Hawaiian state Senate on Nov. 12 passed SB1 on a 19-4 vote during a special session called by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who signed the bill into law yesterday. The Hawaiian House approved the measure 30-19 on Nov. 8 after adding several amendments aimed at quelling religious objections.

Opponents of the measure were expected to file a motion asking for a temporary stay on SB1 pending a court ruling on a 1998 constitutional amendment that states: “The Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.” Seventy percent of Hawaiian voters approved the amendment in 1998, as reported by The Los Angeles Times.

Many of us thought Hawaii would have approved same-sex marriage long before now. After all, in 1993 a state Supreme Court decision put it at the vanguard of the marriage equality movement. As Reuters reports:

The state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that barring same-sex marriage was discriminatory, in a landmark opinion that spurred the gay rights movement nationwide but sparked a backlash that until now kept matrimony restricted to heterosexual couples in Hawaii.

In recognizing the legal milestone of that 1993 decision, Abercrombie handed the pen he used to sign Wednesday's bill to former state Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, who wrote the opinion in the case known as Baehr vs. Lewin.

The decision was later trumped by enactment of a 1994 statutory ban on gay nuptials, followed by a voter-approved state constitutional amendment reserving for the legislature the power to define the institution of marriage.

It is the status of that voter-approved constitutional amendment that has given same-sex marriage opponents the means to prevent the law from taking effect, if only temporarily. A Hawaii state court judge denied a request to prevent the legislature from voting on SB1 but said he would “examine the constitutionality of the bill once it was enacted,” the L.A. Times reports.

Hawaii Attorney General David Louie issued an opinion in October saying that the 1998 constitutional amendment allows the legislature to reserve marriage for “one man and one woman” but does not prohibit lawmakers from passing a law legalizing same-sex marriage. Opponents insist that the new law conflicts with the constitutional amendment and with the will of the voters.

Because the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled narrowly by affording federal recognition of same-sex marriage only in states where it is legal, this movement toward full equality for LGBT people will continue state-by-state until the inevitable happy ending. Every state where marriage equality is enacted into law adds to the body of evidence that social mores as well as hearts and minds have changed. Meantime, expect to see lots of Hawaiian beach weddings in the coming months.

 

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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MOLLY O'BRIEN
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Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.