Hawaii Legislature Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill
Hawaii is just a Governor’s signature away from becoming the next state to legalize same-sex marriage:
The state Senate, as expected, overwhelmingly approved a marriage equity bill today, sending the measure to Gov. Neil Abercrombie who has vowed to sign it and make Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Today’s 19-4 vote, while historic, was a somewhat anti-climatic end to the legislative special session that began Oct. 28 and included more than 55 hours of public testimony, followed by two day-long sessions in the House where lawmakers approved the bill late Friday night in a 30-19 vote.
“I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms,” Abercrombie said in a statement after the Senate vote.
He did not say when he would sign the bill but Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Heeia-Laie-Waialua), chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, and others have said it will be Wednesday.
President Barack Obama issued a statement soon after the vote, saying, “I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality.”
“I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder. And Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be now given the security and respect they deserve,” he said.
More than half the state Senate lawmakers spoke in support of the bill today, with many urging the public to come together to heal divisions within the community.
“This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii,” said Sen. J. Kalani English, a Democrat from Maui.
Once the bill is signed into law, gay couples could get married in Hawaii as soon as Dec. 2. Clergy would have the right to refuse to perform gay weddings. Churches and other religious organizations would be able to decline to provide goods, services and facilities for gay weddings and celebrations if it violates their religious beliefs.
Since Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will not be signing that state’s marriage equality bill until November 20th, this will make Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the sixth to do so since the beginning of this year.