State House Vice Speaker John Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley), a Christian who has opposed gay marriage, had wanted voters to decide the issue through a constitutional amendment. But he said Wednesday that in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legally married gay couples are entitled to federal benefits, the dynamics have shifted and he now believes the Legislature should decide.
“I know it’s a complete change of my position in the past,” he said.
Mizuno is among 11 House and Senate Democrats facing complaints by gay activists that the lawmakers worked against the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s platform last session by suggesting a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. The party’s platform supports marriage equality.
The complaints, which are pending before the party, were a sign of frustration from gay and civil rights activists who were not only disappointed in the Democrats who broke from the party line, but that majority Democrats would not even hear a gay marriage bill last session.
Rep. Richard Fale (R, Waialua-Kahuku-Waiahole), said it will be fascinating to watch how the House leadership coalition, which includes progressive Democrats who favor gay marriage and minority Republicans who are opposed, handles the issue next session.
Fale, who opposes gay marriage, believes voters have already settled the question with the constitutional amendment in 1998 that gave the Legislature the power to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
“Ultimately, it seems like the Supreme Court has still left it to the purview of the states to make decisions regarding this issue. And I believe the people in the state of Hawaii have made a decision on this issue,” he said.