Senate Approves Marriage Equality; Measure Awaits Governor’s Signature

IMAG1918Hawaii will become the 15th state in the nation to grant couples the freedom to marry after the State Senate overwhelmingly approved a marriage equality measure today. The bill awaits Governor Neil Abercrombie’s signature.

“This is a joyous occasion because Hawaii is a state that prides itself for its aloha, diversity, kindness and openness,” said Lois Perrin, ACLU-Hawaii Legal Director and a founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage. “On December 2, 2013, when the new Hawaii law takes effect, our gay brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends will finally be able to marry the person they love.”

“We want to thank the Legislature for conducting a thorough review and listening to both sides in the longest legislative hearing process in state history. Contrary to what some critics claim, this was not a rushed process,” said Jacce Mikulanec, board member of the Japanese American Citizens League and a founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage. “This issue has been part of a statewide debate for over twenty years, and with these votes in the Senate and House, we believe that our lawmakers have acknowledged that a silent majority in our community believe that it’s time to end discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in Hawaii.”

Marriage equality has generated support in the religious community, with over 90 faith leaders signing a petition in support. Members of the labor and business communities have joined those faith leaders, the governor and Hawaii’s Congressional delegation backing the rights of gay couples to legally marry in Hawaii. Local and national public opinion polls show increasing majority support for gay marriage. In an unusual step, President Barack Obama weighed in on the debate last week, saying he “would welcome a decision by the state Legislature to treat all Hawaii couples equally.”

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages. Illinois was poised to become the fifteenth state, but the Illinois governor plans to sign the measure Nov. 20, meaning Hawaii will now become number 15, and Illinois will be number 16.

Hawaii United for Marriage is a statewide coalition of religious congregations, businesses, labor unions and community organizations. More information is available at www.HawaiiUnited.org