Constitutional Amendment 2 of 1998 amended the Constitution of Hawaii, granting the state legislature the power to prevent same-sex marriage from being conducted or recognized in Hawaii. Amendment 2 was the first constitutional amendment adopted in the United States that specifically targeted same-sex partnerships.
In 1993, the Hawaii State Supreme Court ruled in Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw. 1993), that refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples was discriminatory under that state's constitution. However, the court did not immediately order the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples; rather, it remanded the case to the trial court and ordered the state to justify its position. After the trial court judge rejected the state's justifications for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples in 1996 (but stayed his ruling to allow the state to appeal to the Supreme Court again), the Hawaii State Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment during the 1997 session that would overrule the Supreme Court's 1993 ruling and allow the Legislature to ban same-sex marriage. This constitutional amendment appeared on the 1998 general election ballot as Constitutional Amendment 2.
The question that appeared on the ballot for voters was:
Shall the Constitution of the state of Hawaii be amended to specify that the Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples?
Amendment 2 differed from amendments that followed in other states in that it did not write a ban on same-sex marriage into the state's constitution; rather, it allowed the state legislature to enact such a ban. On November 3, 1998, Hawaii voters approved the amendment by a vote of 69.2–28.6%, and the state legislature exercised its power to ban same-sex marriage.
The language added by the amendment reads:
The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.— Article I, section 23, The Constitution of the State of Hawaii
On October 14, 2013, Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie stated in a formal legal opinion that Amendment 2 does not prevent the state legislature from legalizing same-sex marriage, which it did in November 2013 with the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act.
Results of voteEdit
|Invalid or blank votes||9,309||2.2|
|Registered voters and turnout||601,404||68.6|
|Source: Hawaii Office of Elections (November 4, 1998). "1998 General Election Statewide Summary Report". Retrieved 29 April 2022.|
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- Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau. "Article I: Bill of Rights". The Constitution of the State of Hawaii. Archived from the original on 21 February 2006. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
- "Haw. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 13-1" (pdf). 14 October 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2022.