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Lawsuit alleging that the university discriminated against same-sex couple by rejecting their application for family housing.


In March 2007, Joseph O’Leary applied for family housing with the University of Hawaii at Manoa, listing his spouse, Phi Ngo, on the application. The university denied them residence because they were both men, even though it had granted them residence the previous year, based on its voluntary decision to tie family housing benefits to the State of Hawaii’s definition of marriage. Since, the couple has incurred additional commuting and living expenses. Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit on the couple’s behalf.


The vast majority of same-sex couples face an uncertain patchwork of benefits or protections for their relationships, or none at all. The State of Hawaii offers some protections and benefits to same-sex couples under its “Reciprocal Beneficiaries” law.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

A win in this case would have positive repercussions. Because the University of Hawaii is one of the state’s largest employers, a win makes public entities liable for discriminating against same-sex couples by making policies that break the law.


  • March 2008 Lambda Legal files lawsuit in the State of Hawaii
  • August 2008 The univesity settles the case, agreeing to amend its housing policy to provide family housing for same-sex couples.