American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Hawaii Legislature to consider marriage equality bill

On Monday, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie announced that he will convene a special legislative session on October 28 to consider legislation that would bring marriage equality to the Aloha State.

In a press conference yesterday, the governor reaffirmed his support for the bill:

“It’s time for marriage equity to take place, and it’s also time to recognize that it can take place without violating the religious principles of anybody in this state.”

The Honolulu Civil Beat reports that the legislation has enough support to pass, but the vote could be close.

Based on interviews with a number of lawmakers, some of whom were granted anonymity so they could comment on sensitive deliberations, the tally in favor of same-sex marriage legislation was 27 in favor, 16 opposed.

Twenty-six votes are required for passage, and some of the eight other legislators who said they have “reservations” are ultimately likely to back it.

Attention has focused on the House because there is little question in the Senate, where there is a strong 20-5 majority and a desire to pass a bill sooner rather than later.

Hawaii was once regarded as a beacon of hope for marriage equality. In the 1990’s it could have been the first state that recognized the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples. A lengthy court case and constitutional amendment later, Hawaii currently has a civil union law, which went into effect in 2011. Voters in 1998 did not ban marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Rather, they gave the authority to the legislature, which passed a ban that year. Here’s a brief timeline of what happened.

Visit the website for Hawaii United for Marriage to find out how you can get involved.