Baehr v. Lewin, No. 15689

CourtSupreme Court of Hawai'i
Writing for the CourtBefore MOON, Acting C.J., LEVINSON, J., JAMES S. BURNS, Intermediate Court of Appeals Chief Judge, in place of LUM, C.J., recused, WALTER M. HEEN, Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge, in place of KLEIN, J., recused, and HAYASHI; LEVINSON, Judge, in w
Parties, 74 Haw. 645, 61 USLW 2697 Ninia BAEHR, Genora Dancel, Tammy Rodrigues, Antoinette Pregil, Pat Lagon, Joseph Melilio, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. John C. LEWIN, in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Health, State of Hawaii, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 15689
Decision Date05 May 1993

Page 44

852 P.2d 44
74 Haw. 530, 74 Haw. 645, 61 USLW 2697
Ninia BAEHR, Genora Dancel, Tammy Rodrigues, Antoinette
Pregil, Pat Lagon, Joseph Melilio, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
John C. LEWIN, in his official capacity as Director of the
Department of Health, State of Hawaii, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 15689.
Supreme Court of Hawai'i.
May 5, 1993.
Opinion Granting in Part and
Denying in Part Clarification
and Reconsideration May 27, 1993.

Page 46

[74 Haw. 530] Syllabus by the Court

1. [74 Haw. 531] A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his or her claim that would entitle the plaintiff to relief. The duty of the appellate court is therefore to view the plaintiff's complaint in a light most favorable to him or her in order to determine whether the allegations contained therein could warrant relief under any alternative theory. For this reason, in reviewing an order dismissing the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim, the appellate court's consideration is strictly limited to the allegations of the complaint, which must be deemed to be true.

2. A motion for judgment on the pleadings serves much the same purpose as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, except that it is made after the pleadings are closed. A motion for judgment on the pleadings has utility only when all material allegations of fact are admitted in the pleadings and questions of law alone remain.

3. A claim that is evidentiary in nature and requires findings of fact to resolve cannot properly be disposed of under the rubric of a motion for judgment on the pleadings.

4. Consideration of matters outside the pleadings transforms a motion seeking dismissal of a complaint into a motion for summary judgment. But resort to matters outside the record, by way of unverified statements of fact in counsel's memorandum or representations made in oral argument or otherwise, cannot accomplish such a transformation.

5. [74 Haw. 532] It is now well established that a right to personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, is implicit in the United States Constitution.

6. Article I, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution expressly states that "[t]he right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest." The privacy concept embodied in this constitutional principle is to be treated as a fundamental right.

7. At a minimum, article I, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution encompasses all of the fundamental rights expressly recognized as being subsumed within the privacy protections of the United States Constitution.

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8. The federal construct of the fundamental right to marry--subsumed within the right to privacy implicitly protected by the United States Constitution--presently contemplates unions between men and women.

9. As the ultimate judicial tribunal with final, unreviewable authority to interpret and enforce the Hawaii Constitution, the Hawaii Supreme Court is free to give broader privacy protection under article I, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution than that given by the United States Constitution.

10. A right to same-sex marriage is not so rooted in the traditions and collective conscience of Hawaii's people that failure to recognize it would violate the fundamental principles of liberty and justice that lie at the base of all our civil and [74 Haw. 533] political institutions. Neither is a right to same-sex marriage implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, such that neither liberty nor justice would exist if it were sacrificed.

11. Article I, section 6 of the Hawaii Constitution does not give rise to a fundamental right of persons of the same sex to marry.

12. The power to regulate marriage is a sovereign function reserved exclusively to the respective states. By its very nature, the power to regulate the marriage contract includes the power to determine the requisites of a valid marriage contract and to control the qualifications of the contracting parties, the forms and procedures necessary to solemnize the marriage, the duties and obligations it creates, its effect upon property and other rights, and the grounds for marital dissolution. In other words, marriage is a state-conferred legal status, the existence of which gives rise to rights and benefits reserved exclusively to that particular relationship.

13. Marriage is a partnership to which both partners bring their financial resources as well as their individual energies and efforts.

14. Notwithstanding the state's acknowledged stewardship over the institution of marriage, the extent of permissible state regulation of the right of access to the marital relationship is subject to constitutional limitations or constraints.

15. [74 Haw. 534] By its plain language, article I, section 5 of the Hawaii Constitution prohibits state-sanctioned discrimination against any person in the exercise of his or her civil rights on the basis of sex.

16. The fundamental starting point for statutory interpretation is the language of the statute itself. Where statutory language is plain and unambiguous, it must be construed according to its plain and obvious meaning.

17. On its face, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 572-1 (1985) restricts the marital relation to a male and a female. Accordingly, on its face and as applied, HRS § 572-1 denies same-sex couples access to the marital status and its concomitant rights and benefits.

18. It is the state's regulation of access to the status of married persons, on the basis of the applicants' sex, that gives rise to the question whether the applicant couples have been denied the equal protection of the laws in violation of article I, section 5 of the Hawaii Constitution.

19. Whenever a denial of equal protection of the laws is alleged, as a rule the initial inquiry has been whether the legislation in question should be subjected to "strict scrutiny" or to a "rational basis" test.

20. "Strict scrutiny" analysis is applied to laws classifying on the basis of suspect categories or impinging upon fundamental rights expressly or impliedly granted by the constitution, [74 Haw. 535] in which case the laws are presumed to be unconstitutional unless the state shows compelling state interests which justify such classifications and that the laws are narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgements of constitutional rights.

21. Where suspect classifications or fundamental rights are not at issue, the appellate courts of this state have traditionally employed the rational basis test. Under the rational basis test, the inquiry is whether a statute furthers a legitimate state interest.

22. HRS § 572-1 establishes a sex-based classification.

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23. Sex is a "suspect category" for purposes of equal protection analysis under article I, section 5 of the Hawaii Constitution; HRS § 572-1 is therefore subject to the "strict scrutiny" test.

24. HRS § 572-1 is presumed to be unconstitutional unless it can be shown that the statute's sex-based classification is justified by compelling state interests and that it is narrowly drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgements of constitutional rights.

[74 Haw. 583] Daniel R. Foley (Partington & Foley), Honolulu, for plaintiffs-appellants Ninia Baehr, Genora Dancel, Tammy Rodrigues, Antoinette Pregil, Pat Lagon and Joseph Melilio.

Robert A. Marks, Atty. Gen., and Sonia Faust (Judy M.C. So, with her on the briefs), Deputy Attys. Gen., Honolulu, for defendant-appellee John C. Lewin.

Kirk Cashmere and Evan Wolfson, on the briefs, Honolulu, for amicus curiae Lambda Legal Defense and Educ. Fund, Inc.

[74 Haw. 584] Carl M. Varady (William B. Rubenstein, Ruth E. Harlow and Matthew A. Coles of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, with him on the brief), Honolulu, for amicus curiae American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Hawaii.

Lloyd James Hochberg, Jr. (Donald A. Beck and Robert R. Taylor of Beck & Taylor, with him on the brief), Honolulu, for amicus curiae Rutherford Institute of Hawaii.

[74 Haw. 530] Before MOON, Acting C.J., LEVINSON, J., JAMES S. BURNS, Intermediate Court of Appeals Chief Judge, in place of LUM, C.J., recused, WALTER M. HEEN, Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge, in place of KLEIN, J., recused, and HAYASHI, Retired Justice, * assigned by reason of vacancy.

[74 Haw. 535] LEVINSON, Judge, in which MOON, Chief Judge, joins.

The plaintiffs-appellants Ninia Baehr (Baehr), Genora Dancel (Dancel), Tammy Rodrigues (Rodrigues), Antoinette Pregil (Pregil), Pat Lagon (Lagon), and Joseph Melilio (Melilio) (collectively "the plaintiffs") appeal the circuit court's order (and judgment entered pursuant thereto) granting the motion of the defendant-appellee [74 Haw. 536] John C. Lewin (Lewin), in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Health (DOH), State of Hawaii, for judgment on the pleadings, resulting in the dismissal of the plaintiffs' action with prejudice for failure to state a claim against Lewin upon which relief can be granted. Because, for purposes of Lewin's motion, it is our duty to view the factual allegations of the plaintiffs' complaint in a light most favorable to them (i.e., because we must deem such allegations as true) and because it does not appear beyond doubt that the plaintiffs cannot prove any set of facts in support of their claim that would entitle them to the relief they seek, we hold that the circuit court erroneously dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint. Accordingly, we vacate the circuit court's order and judgment and remand this matter to the circuit court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 1, 1991, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, seeking, inter alia: (1) a declaration that Hawaii Revised...

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  • Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Sers., Nos. 10–2204
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • May 31, 2012
    ...the Hawaii Supreme Court held that it might violate the Hawaii constitution to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44, 48, 68 (1993). Although Hawaii [682 F.3d 6]then empowered its legislature to block such a ruling, Haw. Const. art. I, § 23—whi......
  • Strauss v. Horton, No. S168047.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 26, 2009
    ...violated the provisions of the Hawaii Constitution and that same-sex couples lawfully could marry in Hawaii (see Baehr v. Lewin (1993) 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44), the United States Congress and many states adopted so-called Defense of Marriage Acts generally setting forth, in varying terms, ......
  • Andersen v. King County, No. 75934-1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 26, 2006
    ...a person of the same sex. FACTS ¶ 10 In 1996, while a state constitutional challenge to same-sex marriage was pending in Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44, reconsideration granted in part, 74 Haw. 650, 875 P.2d 225 (1993), Congress enacted the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Pub.L. ......
  • In re Kandu, No. 03-51312.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Washington
    • August 17, 2004
    ...refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. 1 U.S.C. § 7. DOMA was enacted in response to Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44 (1993). H.R.Rep. No. 104-664, at 6-7 (1996), reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2905, 2911. Congress recognized that the Hawaii Supreme ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
134 cases
  • Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Sers., Nos. 10–2204
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • May 31, 2012
    ...the Hawaii Supreme Court held that it might violate the Hawaii constitution to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44, 48, 68 (1993). Although Hawaii [682 F.3d 6]then empowered its legislature to block such a ruling, Haw. Const. art. I, § 23—whi......
  • Strauss v. Horton, No. S168047.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 26, 2009
    ...violated the provisions of the Hawaii Constitution and that same-sex couples lawfully could marry in Hawaii (see Baehr v. Lewin (1993) 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44), the United States Congress and many states adopted so-called Defense of Marriage Acts generally setting forth, in varying terms, ......
  • Andersen v. King County, No. 75934-1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 26, 2006
    ...a person of the same sex. FACTS ¶ 10 In 1996, while a state constitutional challenge to same-sex marriage was pending in Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44, reconsideration granted in part, 74 Haw. 650, 875 P.2d 225 (1993), Congress enacted the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Pub.L. ......
  • In re Kandu, No. 03-51312.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Western District of Washington
    • August 17, 2004
    ...refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. 1 U.S.C. § 7. DOMA was enacted in response to Baehr v. Lewin, 74 Haw. 530, 852 P.2d 44 (1993). H.R.Rep. No. 104-664, at 6-7 (1996), reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2905, 2911. Congress recognized that the Hawaii Supreme ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Comparing Institutional and Policy Explanations for the Adoption of State Constitutional Amendments
    • United States
    • American Politics Research Nbr. 39-6, November 2011
    • November 1, 2011
    ...as Determinants of Issues on State Courts of Last Resort. American Journal of Politi-cal Science, 20, 97-114. Hume 1123Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44.Baker v. Vermont, 744 A.2d 864.Barclay, S. (2010). In search of judicial activism in the same-sex marriage cases: Sorting the evidence from cour......
  • Public Opinion and State Action on Same-Sex Marriage
    • United States
    • State and Local Government Review Nbr. 40-1, December 2008
    • December 1, 2008
    ...MA: Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies. www.iglss.org/media/les/c2k_leftout.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2006.Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw.), reconsideration granted in part, 875 P.2d 225 (Haw. 1993).Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971), appeal dismissed, 409 U.S. 810 (1......
  • Rebinding the ties that bind: Government efforts to preserve and promote marriage*
    • United States
    • Family Relations Nbr. 53-5, October 2004
    • October 1, 2004
    ...to1994 (Population Division Working Paper No. 20). U.S. Census Bureau. Wash-ington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Off‌ice.Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw. 1993).Baehr v. Miike, 1996 WL 694235 (Haw. Cir. Ct. 1996).Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W. M., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. (19......
  • The deinstitutionalization of American marriage
    • United States
    • Journal of Marriage and Family Nbr. 66-4, November 2004
    • November 1, 2004
    ...comments on a previ-ous version, and Linda Burton for her collaborative work onthe Three-City Study ethnography.REFERENCESBaehr v. Lewin (74 Haw. 530, 74 Haw. 645, 852P.2d 44 1993).Beck, U., & Beck-Gernsheim, E. (1995). The nor-mal chaos of love. Cambridge, England: PolityPress.Beck, U., & ......

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