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We're having a debate about same-sex marriage in this country largely because of the courage of Joseph Melillo, his partner, and two lesbian couples who sued the State of Hawai`i in 1991 to obtain marriage licenses.

On Tuesday, we lost Joe (seated in this picture, next to his partner, Pat Lagon) to throat cancer.

Joe & Pat

The Star-Bulletin has his obituary:

The lawsuit eventually resulted in the Supreme Court of Hawai`i's landmark Baehr v. Lewin decision in 1993. Of course, the debate over same-sex marriage has raged throughout the nation since then.

The Star-Bulletin also has a page that provides a lot of the local history on the same-sex-marriage issue:

I never met Joe, although I'm privileged to know his attorney, Dan Foley, who's now a judge. Dan was always grateful to have such brave, committed clients like Joe and his partner, Pat Lagon.

It's sad that Joe and Pat were never able to be married. I hope their inability to obtain the status of a married couple doesn't provide any legal or financial complications and add to Pat's grief.

I offer condolences to Pat and say aloha to Joe.

Originally posted to raatz on Fri Jul 28, 2006 at 02:31 PM PDT.

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