By Wendy Osher
Governor Neil Abercrombie issued a statement on the topic of marriage equality, calling on legislators to hold hearings on the marriage equality bill to further discussions on equal treatment.
The governor signed a civil unions bill into law in 2011. In 2012, a lawsuit was filed against Gov. Abercrombie in his official capacity claiming discrimination for failing to allow same sex couples to marry.
The governor declined to contest the lawsuit, citing elements of the civil union law. The attorney-general is also defending the Department of Health in carrying out its duty under the current law.
This legislative session, there are bills to further address marriage equality, and Gov. Abercrombie is urging the Hawaii State Legislature to hear those measures.
In a statement released by the governor’s office he stated, “I have always supported human equality and agree with President Obama and our congressional delegation that all of our citizens should be treated equally.”
He continued saying, “Hawaii is a state defined by our diversity, compassion and aloha. I encourage our state legislators to hold hearings on the marriage equality bill so that we can further discussions on equal treatment under the law.”
Senate Bill 1369 seeks to recognize marriages between individuals of the same sex. Under the measure, same-sex couples would be extended the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive. The bill would permit marriage licenses to be issued beginning Dec. 2, 2013 but prohibit solemnizations until Jan. 1, 2014. The item has been re-referred to the JDL and WAM committees.
House Bill 1005 proposes a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a legal relationship between two people of the opposite or same sex. The measure has been referred to the JUD and FIN committees.