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Honolulu, HAWAII –
On Aug.29 a gay couple not allowed to move back into family housing at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, settled their lawsuit against the school.
On March 10, Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of Joseph O’Leary and Phi Ngo. During the 2006-2007 school year, Ngo and O’leary lived in family housing on the main campus of the university while O’Leary worked toward a degree in history. They reapplied for family housing for the 2007 – 2008 school year, but the university denied their request.
In a letter dated May 30, 2007, the interim director of University Housing Services stated that the University “recognizes marital status as defined in Section 572-1 of the Hawai’i Revised Statutes,” which restricts the term “marriage” to different-sex couples. The letter went on to state that “(u)ntil such time that the state revises its definition of marital status, we will continue to apply the existing definition to our assignment policy for married housing.” With this interpretation of the law, the university said that it denied Ngo and O’Leary housing merely because they are not a married couple. However, the Supreme Court of Hawaii already held that the denial of any of the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples constitutes discrimination in violation of the state constitution.
The university has since revised its housing policy to provide accommodation for committed same-sex couples.