Dorm ruling leads to suit
A homosexual couple alleges UH was biased in its housing rejection
A student and his gay partner sued the University of Hawaii yesterday in Circuit Court because they were denied family housing at the Manoa campus.
History major Joseph O'Leary and his partner, Phi Ngo, a student at a private Honolulu college, were approved for family housing at the Manoa campus in the 2006-07 school year.
O'Leary's application for family housing was denied for 2007-08, with UH officials informing him that they provide family housing only for legally married couples and that the earlier approval was an mistake.
O'Leary had filled out the application the same way, providing Ngo's gender and indicating he was a spouse.
The lawsuit alleges discrimination against the men, who it says are in a loving and committed relationship, and who are registered with the state Health Department as reciprocal beneficiaries.
The complaint said the university's alleged discrimination has devalued the couple's relationship as inferior to different-sex couples, violating the Hawaii Constitution's guarantee of equality.
The two men have lived together for three years and were forced to lease a much more expensive and less convenient apartment, requiring a commute.
Clyde Wadsworth, one of the couple's attorneys, said Hawaii law does not require UH to restrict family housing to different-sex couples. He said the university provides some benefits such as health insurance and tuition waivers for those in same-sex committed relationships with UH employees.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc. also is representing the couple.
A university spokesman declined comment, as instructed by UH legal counsel.