LIHUE — It was a historic day at 5th Circuit Court on Thursday, with the first same-sex civil marriage ceremony to be held in the county, and the first double wedding officiated by Judge Kathleen Watanabe.
The wedding took place after the state law allowing same sex marriage went into effect Dec. 1. With its passing, Hawaii became the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage.
The newlyweds were Jodi Darby and Ande Anderson, along with Kate Himell and Rochia Holmquist. Both couples divide their year between the North Shore of Kauai and Northern California.
As part-year residents, they said the time was right. They happened to be on island at the same time, and so were a number of their friends.
“I am honored and privileged to be part of this historic moment,” said Judge Watanabe.
During the ceremony, Watanabe said the couples took their devotion to one another seriously and did not make a decision to enter into a union lightly.
She declared the unions a full and legal commitment to each other and in accordance with the laws of the state of Hawaii.
It was also the first double-wedding that Watanabe had performed since becoming a judge in 1994.
“It is a big day for us,” she added.
Himell and Holmquist have been partners for 30 years — the same time they started coming to Kauai together and eventually buying a home here.
Darby and Anderson have been partners for 17 years and also have a home on the island.
Even after years together, Anderson said to be married officially feels very different.
To be able to step in front of the judge with friends to say “I do” brings the commitment in their relationship to a new level in the community after all the protests and resistance over the years, she said.
Himell said until now, they had felt left out and that the relationship was somehow lesser in the eyes of the community.
More than the recognition of government, she said the support and encouragement from everyone involved in the process made the effort genuine and not just official.
“Now we are as good as anybody else,” Himell said.
The pain of the past all seemed to disappear this week, Holmquist said. They decided to get married on Monday and bought the leis, the rings and filled out the application forms on Tuesday.
By Thursday, it was like a whole new world as they went through the ceremony with the judge and their friends present.
“Now we are going to Duke’s to have lunch and to celebrate,” she said.
The couples said they have had other opportunities to marry in other states and in California. They waited because of problems with the recognition of same-sex unions with state and federal programs including Social Security, Medicare and veterans benefits.