Hawaii Set to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage
Hawaii’s Gov. Neil Abercrombie plans on signing a bill Wednesday making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state senate passed the bill on Tuesday.
The signing of the bill is to take place during an exclusive ceremony Wednesday morning at the Hawaii Convention Center.
“I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms,” Abercrombie told the Associated Press (AP).
The bill was passed 19-4 by Hawaii’s senate on Tuesday causing large celebrations by supporters both within the capitol room and outside the capitol in Honolulu. The Hawaii senate is Democratic-controlled with 24 of the 25 senators being democrats. The only Republican of the senate, Sam Slom (R- District 9), was joined by 3 Democrats who voted against the bill.
“People have differences, and you can’t legislate morality. You can try, but you can’t do it,” Slom told the AP before voting Tuesday.
Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (D-District 14) also voted against the bill and banged her gavel to quiet down the crowds when noise erupted with its passing.
President Obama released a statement on Tuesday praising the state on passage of the bill.
“I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality,” Obama’s statement read. “With today’s vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation. I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder. And Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be given the security and respect they deserve.”
The House passed the bill last week 30-19 with a Republican’s vote for it and 13 Democrats against it. The House made amendments to the bill which “delayed the date ceremonies could begin, slightly expanded an exemption for clergy and religious organizations, and removed regulations determining how children of same-sex couples could qualify for Native Hawaiian benefits,” the AP explained.
Research conducted by the University of Hawaii has suggested legalizing same-sex marriage for the island state could boost tourism by about $217 million over the next 3 years – ceremonies, receptions, and honeymoons all add to this figure.
“What we’re projecting is that about 60% of same sex couples across the United States will decide to marry, because in a lot of states couples have not been allowed to marry and now there’s a lot of benefits to couples marrying so there’s a pent up demand. Hawaii could gain from this,” Prof. La Croix explained to Hawaiian NBC affiliate WSFA. “We’re likely to see lots of same sex couples come to Hawaii to marry and to honeymoon, if Hawaii were to become a marriage equality state.”
The number of states which allow same-sex marriage has doubled since last year when only 6 states and DC recognized same-sex marriage. Marriage of same-sex couples in Hawaii will begin on Dec. 2.
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