Original same-sex marriage plaintiff finally ties the knot

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Dec 17 2013 04:38:00 PM HST

A Hawaii woman who first applied for her marriage license 23 years ago finally tied the knot today. What took so long? She had to wait for the rest of the state to catch up to her same-sex commitment.

HONOLULU -

Dec. 17 is not only the date of Genora Dancel's wedding, it is also the anniversary of the start of the same-sex marriage fight in Hawaii.

"Today marks the 23rd anniversary of when I went down to the Department of Health to get a marriage license," said Dancel.

The clerk denied Dancel and the others a license, which then sparked a legal battle for equality.
"This young lady started the whole thing. Sixteen states now recognize same-sex marriage. Other countries recognize same-sex marriage, and it all started in this courtroom," said Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge Dan Foley.

"When I come into this Supreme Court courtroom I remember how it was back then, as if it was yesterday. Today, I reflect on that. It was a long, hard battle, but we had the best judges possible -- that's why we're here today," said Dancel.

One of those judges, former Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson was more than just a witness to the history, he ruled in favor of the same-sex couples. On Tuesday, he also witnessed this same-sex wedding.

"I understand how precious and special the institution of marriage isand I really cherish it," said Levinson.

The former attorney who successfully fought for the couples is now a judge. Judge Foley, like many others, waited years for same-sex marriage equality in Hawaii.

"As a sitting judge there was nothing I could say or do, until it became law. Now, it is the law, so this is just another regular marriage," said Foley.

Even knowing the importance of this wedding 23 years in the making, longtime couple Dancel and Kathryn Dennis said they weren't nervous before the ceremony, as they knew they would be married someday.

"We felt eventually we'd be able to get married, but we're so thankful it has come now. We're just really excited, and it is in Hawaii," said Dennis.

"It won't be long before marriage is a marriage, is a marriage, but for now we can continue to celebrate Hawaii has come full circle," stated Levinson.

So much has changed in Hawaii in the past two decades since Dancel first went to get her marriage license, but there was one thing that has remained the same..

"Last week, I went down to the Dept. of Health to get my marriage license, and it was the same clerk, who 23 years ago refused to give me my license. This time we hugged," said Dancel.

After the big wedding, the newlyweds aren't planning anything special just time with family this week, before a honeymoon later on.


Meanwhileformer justice Steven Levinson has been busy helping with marriage equality and expects to officiate at least a dozen same-sex ceremonies by the end of the month.

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