Six Hawaiian couples have filed a lawsuit against the state demanding full equality.
Three weeks ago, governor Linda Lingle vetoed a civil partnerships bill and apparently compared it to condoning incest.
The lawsuit does not mention same-sex marriage or civil unions but instead asks the state to grant full equality, including the rights and benefits enjoyed by straight married couples.
Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union are supporting the case and believe that Hawaii’s constitutional anti-discrimination provisions mean it must give equal rights to gays and lesbians.
Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, told Associated Press: “This case is not about marriage. It’s about the right of same-sex couples to at least have a system that is understandable and complete.
“The state’s equality guarantee at least has to mean same-sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities, even if it’s segmented off into a system that isn’t as respected, understood and revered as marriage.”
Before Ms Lingle’s veto, the bill had passed both houses and would have given both straight and gay couples the right to have their partnerships recognised with all the rights of marriage.