Special Session Begins on Gay Marriage
By Wendy Osher
A special session of the Hawaiʻi Legislature begins today as state lawmakers consider legislation on marriage equity and a measure that if passed outlines a start date for gay marriage in the state.
In the weeks leading up to the special session, individuals from both sides of the issue were observed waving signs along Kaʻahumanu Avenue in Kahului to drum up support for their respective opinions on the topic.
The special session, convened by Governor Neil Abercrombie, is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m.
Senate Bill 1 seeks to recognize marriages between individuals of the same sex by extending to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.
A separate bill, House Bill 5, seeks to amend the state constitution to require that marriage be reserved to opposite-sex couples. The bill is pending introduction.
If the Senate bill gains passage in its current form, same sex couples could be married in the state as soon as Nov. 18, 2013.
In announcing the special session last month, Gov. Abercrombie said, “The reason for the session taking place prior to the opening of the regular session next year is that there are serious, deep, and wide ranging consequences, particularly in regard to tax law that have to be in effect by Dec. 31, if they are to be taken full advantage of, presuming that the bill has enough votes for passage.”
The bill, relating to marriage, aims to recognize marriages between individuals of the same sex in the state of Hawaiʻi, “and to address questions of equity—civil and otherwise—that have arisen in the course of the discussion over the past 20-plus years,” said Abercrombie who noted that the first instance of informed discussion based on actual legislation or judicial decision-making came in 1993.
The governor said, “Oct. 28 will provide us an opportunity to efficiently and effectively bring this issue to a conclusion, and that we can then proceed to other business of the state.”