Marriage in Hawaii – FAQ

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 in FAQ

The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013, effective on Dec. 2, 2013. (View the news release regarding the signing of the law here. To read the final Act, visit the Hawaii State Legislature 2013 Second Special Session Webpage.)

This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Interested persons should contact an attorney or tax advisor to discuss their individual situations.


Frequently Asked Questions

When is the earliest a same-sex couple can apply for a marriage license?

December 2, 2013, 12:00 a.m.

What is the process for applying for a marriage license, getting married, and having the marriage registered?

The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 provides marriage equity regardless of gender. The process remains unchanged.

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) maintains an informational webpage here.

For information specific to marriage/civil union licensing, click here or call the HDOH Marriage/Civil Union License Section at: (808) 586-4544

Who can perform the marriage ceremony?

The HDOH maintains a list of performers here.

If a performer is already licensed to perform marriages in the State of Hawaii, does he/she have to apply for another license to perform marriages between two individuals of the same sex in Hawaii?

No.


Transition from a Hawaii Relationship to a Hawaii Marriage

What will happen to civil unions now that the state permits marriages between two individuals of the same sex?

Civil unions remain available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike.

If a couple is in a Hawaii civil union and wants to marry each other, do they need to terminate their civil union first?

No. Under the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, their civil union automatically terminates upon solemnization of their marriage to each other. Any legal rights they had from their civil union continue through their marriage.

If a couple is in a Hawaii civil union and one of them wants to marry someone else, do they need to terminate their civil union first?

Yes.

If a couple is in a Hawaii reciprocal beneficiary relationship (RBR) and wants to marry each other, do they need to terminate their RBR first?

No. Their RBR automatically terminates upon solemnization of their marriage.  Under the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, any legal rights they had from their RBR continue through their marriage.

If a couple is in a Hawaii RBR and one of them wants to marry someone else, do they need to terminate their RBR first?

No. Under the reciprocal beneficiaries law, the RBR automatically terminates upon the solemnization of a marriage by either party. This does not require the consent of the non-marrying RBR partner.


Transition from an Out-of-State Relationship to a Hawaii Marriage

If a couple is in a domestic partnership (DP) or non-Hawaii civil union and wants to marry each other, do they need to terminate their DP or civil union first?

Generally, if their DP or non-Hawaii civil union is “substantially equivalent” to a civil union under chapter 572B, Hawaii Revised Statutes, it will be recognized as a civil union by the State of Hawaii. (The responsibility rests with the couple to interpret the laws from other states.) For couples in DPs or non-Hawaii civil unions that are “substantially equivalent” to Hawaii’s civil unions, Hawaii law will treat these relationships the same as Hawaii civil unions. Under the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, the couple’s civil union will be automatically terminated upon solemnization of their marriage to each other. This is for purposes of Hawaii law.

If a couple is in a legal relationship from another state, there is no need to do anything unless the state in which they entered their DP or civil union requires further action. (As stated above, the responsibility is the couple’s to interpret laws from other states. As a courtesy, resource links to organizations that provide legal services are listed at the bottom of this page.)

If a couple is in a DP or non-Hawaii civil union and one of them wants to marry someone else, do they need to terminate their DP or civil union first?

Generally, if their DP or non-Hawaii civil union is “substantially equivalent” to a civil union under chapter 572B, Hawaii Revised Statutes, it will be recognized as a civil union in the State of Hawaii. Just as for Hawaii civil unions, that relationship would have to be terminated prior to marrying someone else in Hawaii.

If their DP or civil union is NOT “substantially equivalent” to a civil union under chapter 572B, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and is NOT recognized as a civil union in the State of Hawaii, then that relationship may not have to be terminated prior to marrying someone else in Hawaii; however, it depends on the requirements of the state in which they entered their relationship. (The responsibility rests with the couple to interpret laws from other states.)

After the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act becomes law on December 2, 2013, how will Hawaii recognize an out-of-state civil union, DP, or other status?

The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act does not change the law about how Hawaii recognizes relationships other than marriage. Gender is no longer a determining factor in the state’s recognition of marriages.

Recognition of other relationships will continue based on the existing law pertaining to unions performed in other jurisdictions (section 572B-10, Hawaii Revised Statutes). Those civil unions or DPs that are “substantially equivalent” to Hawaii’s civil unions will be recognized as civil unions (not as marriages).

If a couple is already married in another state, can they re-marry in Hawaii? (For example, can they obtain a marriage certificate/acknowledgement from Hawaii, such as is allowed in New York and Minnesota.)

No. Under the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, couples in valid marriages from other jurisdictions will be recognized as married in Hawaii and will not be allowed to marry again in Hawaii.

(Note: Hawaii does not issue certificates of acknowledgment of marriages that were not performed in Hawaii. The marriage certificate from the state of the marriage is sufficient to prove a valid marriage.)

Will other states recognize marriages solemnized in Hawaii between same-sex couples?

Generally, states with marriage equality will recognize marriages performed in Hawaii for two individuals of the same sex. There are a few jurisdictions that recognize marriages from other states between two individuals of the same sex even though those states do not as yet permit marriages between two individuals of the same sex. (The responsibility rests with the couple to interpret laws from other states.)


Tax Questions

If a couple married in Hawaii in late 2013, how do they file 2013 Hawaii income tax returns? (For example, if registered as a civil union couple, are there any changes to tax filing status?)

When filing a tax return, the sex of an individual does not matter. Therefore, same-sex married couples and civil union couples will file their Hawaii individual income tax returns the same way that opposite-sex married couples file their tax returns.

Filing status for same-sex married couples, opposite-sex married couples, and civil union couples will either be married filing a joint return or married filing a separate return. Marital status on the last day of the tax year determines filing status (Dec. 31 for most individual taxpayers).

For federal tax filing status, couples should consult with a tax advisor or use the resources made available online by the IRS at: http://www.irs.gov/

What if a couple was married in another state that allows two individuals of the same sex to marry?

Under the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, Hawaii will recognize marriages between two individuals of the same sex from other states. If a couple is married in another state that allows for marriages between two individuals of the same sex, couples must file their tax return as any married couple would do. (See question above for details regarding filing status.)

What if the tax return instructions only refer to terms like “marriage,” “spouses,” “husband and wife,” but don’t address same-sex married couples or civil union couples?

Under the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, the rights of marriage are the same regardless of the gender of the spouses. Under the Act, gender-specific terminology (such as “husband and wife”) is interpreted to include spouses of both genders. Hawaii’s tax laws therefore apply in the same manner to married same-sex spouses as they do to married opposite-sex spouses. For tax purposes, there is no need for any law to address married same-sex spouses in particular.

In addition, provisions in Hawaii’s income tax law that apply to a husband and wife, spouses or person in a legal marital relationship (including same-sex marriage) shall be deemed to apply to partners in a civil union with the same force and effect as if they were “husband and wife,” “spouses” or other terms that describe persons in a legal marital relationship. Accordingly, references to “married,” “unmarried” and “spouse” also mean “in a civil union,” “not in a civil union” and “civil union partner,” respectively.

What resources are available to answer additional tax-related questions?

View the Department of Taxation’s tax announcement regarding the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act.

Tax-related questions may be directed to the state Taxpayer Services Branch at (808) 587-4242 or 1-800-222-3229 (toll free). General tax information is also available on the Hawaii Department of Taxation website at: http://tax.hawaii.gov


State Assistance/Service Questions

Will the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act impact Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS) financial assistance programs?

No. The DHS treats all marriages the same, regardless of the gender of the spouses.

How is SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) affected?

There is no impact. All couples are considered one household if they live together and customarily purchase food and prepare meals together for home consumption. Whether they are civil union or married, it does not have a bearing on SNAP eligibility.

How is Med-QUEST (Medicaid) affected?

There is no impact. Eligibility for medical assistance is based solely on income.

How is the Hawaii Public Housing Authority affected?

There is no impact. Programs already serve families with same-sex partners without discrimination. (Note: The possibility exists for unintended or unanticipated consequences involving federal database reporting requirements, but the state is not aware of any such issues at this time.)

How are child welfare services affected?

There is no impact.

Regarding licensure, because there is legal documentation of the relationship, the Social Services Division/Child Welfare Services Branch recognizes civil union couples as married. This will be the same once the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act goes into effect on December 2, 2013. Both individuals will be named as primary caregivers.

Regarding intervention/investigation, social workers assess safety of the family home. Whether the couple is married or not, they are part of the assessment. What will matter is identification of the legal parent. Regardless of whether a couple is of the same-sex or opposite-sex, the release of confidential information is reserved for the legal parent(s).


Religious Freedom & Protections

Are clergy required to marry couples of the same sex under the new law?

No. The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act provides that any clergy, minister, priest, or rabbi may refuse to solemnize a marriage if it is against their religious beliefs, without any penalty or legal liability.

Will churches or other religious organizations have to rent or allow the use of their facilities for weddings or wedding celebrations for same-sex couples?

No. The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act provides that a religious organization or a nonprofit organization operated, supervised or controlled by a religious organization shall not be required to provide goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage that is in violation of its religious belief or faith. If a religious organization or nonprofit operated, supervised or controlled by the religious organization meets those requirements, it does not have to offer the use of its facilities. This provision of the Marriage Equality Act creates an exception to Hawaii’s public accommodations law.

What kind of discrimination does Hawaii’s public accommodations law prohibit?

Generally, Hawaii law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation.  A “public accommodation” is a place of business, accommodation, refreshment, entertainment or transportation whose goods, services or facilities are made available to the general public as customers, clients or visitors. Under chapter 489, Hawaii Revised Statutes, it is illegal to discriminate against a person in a place of public accommodation based on race, sex (including gender identity or expression), sexual orientation, color, religion, ancestry or disability.

Does the exemption for religious organizations apply to private for-profit businesses that refuse to provide goods, services or facilities to same-sex couples for solemnizations or celebrations of marriage based on the religious beliefs of their owners?

No. The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act exemption for religious organizations and nonprofit organizations operated, supervised or controlled by a religious organization does not extend to private businesses. If those private businesses offer goods, services or facilities to the public as customers, clients or visitors, they are subject to Hawaii’s public accommodations law.

Does the exemption for religious organizations and nonprofit organizations operated, supervised or controlled by a religious organization allow discrimination in public accommodations for anything other than solemnizations or celebrations of marriage?

No. The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act exemption for religious organizations and nonprofits operated, supervised or controlled by a religious organization extends only to the solemnization or celebration of marriages. For all other purposes, Hawaii’s public accommodations law continues to apply.

How will the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act impact solemnizers who indicated that they would perform only marriages when they applied for their license online?

There is no impact. Clergy are permitted to refuse to solemnize any marriage if it is against their religious beliefs, as explained above.


Public Employees/Retirees

When can I add my same-sex spouse to my EUTF health plans?

Just as with any marriage, you have 30 days from the date of your marriage to complete and EC-1/EC-1H and turn it into your personnel office. The effective date of coverage will be the date you turned your EC-1/EC-1H form into your personnel office, or you may choose the beginning of the next pay period after turning in the form to personnel, or the second pay period after turning in the form to personnel. Attach a copy of your marriage certificate to your EC-1/EC-1H. If you do not have a copy of the marriage certificate, turn it into EUTF as soon as you receive it – do not wait for the marriage certificate to turn in your EC-1/EC-1H to your personnel office.

(Note: An EC-2/EC-2H submitted directly to the EUTF is required for those enrolled in an EUTF retiree plan.)

If my civil union or domestic partner is currently covered under my EUTF health plans, do I still need to complete an EC-1/EC-1H to cover my new spouse?

Yes. To change your partner’s designation from “civil union partner” or “domestic partner” to “spouse,” you must complete an EC-1/EC-1H and follow the instructions in the question above.

Who do I contact if I have other questions about adding my same-sex spouse or about EUTF benefits/coverage for my same-sex spouse?

Questions regarding adding your spouse should be emailed to eutf@hawaii.gov, or you may call our customer call center at (808) 586-7390 or 1-800-295-0089 (toll free). Questions about benefits/coverage should be addressed to the carriers. Below are the carrier contact numbers:

  • HMSA – (808) 948-6499 or 1-800-776-4672
  • Kaiser – (808) 432-5955 (Oahu) or 1-800-966-5955 (Neighbor Islands)
  • CVS Caremark – 1-855-801-8263
  • HDS – (808) 529-9310 or 1-866-702-3883
  • VSP – (808) 532-1600 or 1-800-522-5162
  • Royal State National – (808) 539-1621 or 1-888-942-2447

Important Information for State Employees with Same-Sex Spouses:

If you entered into a legally recognized same-sex marriage outside of Hawaii before December 2013, and your spouse was provided EUTF health benefits through civil union or domestic partner coverage, your income may be overstated on your W-2 form. Please consult your tax advisor for details. Any employee who requires a revised Form W-2 because of the tax treatment for EUTF premiums should email the EUTF at eutfadmin@hawaii.gov. Employees are also reminded to notify your departmental personnel office immediately about any changes to your marital status.


Useful Resources