TIMELINE: Hawaii’s Marriage Struggle From the ’80s to Today

Neil AbrcrombieYay Hawaii! Marriage! So now, you might be wondering, how did we get here?

This whole saga has been going on for so long that babies born when the first lawsuit was filed are now old enough to get married themselves. This was one of the first states to grapple thoroughly with the issue of marriage, and it was a debate that took up most of the 1990s. Here’s a little timeline:


  • August 7, 1984: Elder Dallin Oaks issues a memo, “Principles to Govern Possible Public Statement on Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals,” that would serve as the foundation for anti-gay campaigns
  • 1988: The Mormon Church contracts with Hawaiian marketing agency Hill and Knowlton to advance anti-gay initiatives in various states
  • December 1990: Three couples apply for and are denied a license in Hawaii
  • October 1992: Hawaii Supreme Court hears their case
  • May 5, 1993: Court rules that limiting marriage is unconstitutional unless the state can indicate a compelling interest
  • April 1995: Hawaii legislature rewords the law to ban marriage equality
  • December 1996: Hawaii court rules that there is no compelling interest to banning marriage
  • June 1998: Hawaii Family Coalition formed
  • November 3, 1998: Hawaii (and Alaska) pass constitutional marriage bans on marriage
  • 2010: Hawaii legislature passes civil unions bill; Governor Lingle vetos; Lambda Legal files suit
  • Feb 23, 2011: Governor Abercrombie signs civil unions bill

And now here we are, picking out floral arrangements. Here’s to things worth waiting for.