State Rep. Bob McDermott on Wednesday called for a constitutional amendment on gay marriage.
The Republican, who represents Ewa Beach, said he has organized a group of community leaders for a rally at the state Capitol on Oct. 28, the opening day of a special session on gay marriage.
Several Republicans -- and a few Democrats, most notably Rep. Sharon Har -- believe that the question must go before voters because of the 1998 constitutional amendment that gave the Legislature the power to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Any other definition, their argument goes, must go back before the electorate.
But the state Attorney General's office and several constitutional scholars contend that the 1998 amendment gave the Legislature the power to define marriage. The amendment was in direct response to a state Supreme Court ruling in 1993 that determined that denying gay couples marriage licenses was a violation of equal protection. The purpose was to give such power to the Legislature, not the courts.
From McDermott, who says the theme of the rally will be "Let the People Decide:"
I was in legislature 1998. The people thought they were addressing the question once and for all. However, the horrible language that was foisted upon the people by an intransigent Senate Judiciary committee at the time left us with no choice but to accept the amendment. This explains the mess we are in today.