Hawaii lawmakers vote to legalize same-sex marriage

From Poliglot:  http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2013/11/hawaii-lawmakers-vote-to-legalize-same-sex-marriag.html

Posted by Justin Snow
November 12, 2013

The Hawaii state Senate voted 19-4 Tuesday to recognize same-sex couples’ right to marry, all but legalizing marriage equality in the Aloha State.

The Hawaii state Senate approved a marriage-equality bill that was amended and passed with a 30-19 vote by the state House of Representatives Friday night after 56 hours of public testimony over five days. Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), who called the state Legislature back for a special session to consider same-sex marriage legislation after the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in June, is expected to sign the bill into law as soon as tomorrow. With Abercrombie’s signature, marriage licenses will begin being issued to same-sex couples as early as Dec. 2.

The amended bill protects clergy from having to perform weddings for same-sex couples and religious organizations from having to provide goods, services and facilities for same-sex weddings. The state Senate previously approved a similar bill 20-4 late last month, and today’s vote comes two contentious weeks after the special session began on Oct. 28 to consider the bill.

The Hawaii Legislature is the second state legislature in the past week to vote to legalize same-sex marriage. On Nov. 5, Illinois lawmakers approved marriage-equality legislation that is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn (D) later this month. When those bills are signed into law, Hawaii and Illinois will become the 15th and 16th states, plus D.C., to grant same-sex couples the right to marry. Last month, New Jersey became the 14th marriage-equality state after Gov. Chris Christie (R) dropped his appeal of a state court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Hawaii is of particular significance, and brings the fight full circle after two decades of debate. Hawaii is considered the original battleground of the marriage-equality movement. It was 20 years ago in 1993 that a lawsuit was filed on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking marriage rights, sparking political backlash across the country. With the Hawaii Supreme Court giving serious consideration to legalizing same-sex marriage in Hawaii, Congress approved and President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Hawaii voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 giving state lawmakers the power to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Civil unions were approved in 2011.

Continue reading at:  http://www.metroweekly.com/poliglot/2013/11/hawaii-lawmakers-vote-to-legalize-same-sex-marriag.html

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