Hawaii is halfway to becoming the 15th marriage equality state.  Today the Hawaii state Senate passed the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 (SB 1) on a vote of 20 to 4 with one abstention.

Yesterday the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor passed the bill out of committee on a 5-2 vote after a marathon 12-hour public hearing during which about 400 people testified.

The legislature is considering the bill this week in a special session called by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.  “I think Hawaii has always celebrated its sense of Aloha for one another,” Gov. Abercrombie told Reuters. “This is a question of equity.”

Gov. Abercrombie’s predecessor, the twice-divorced Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, notoriously vetoed a civil unions bill in 2010, saying at the time “I have been open and consistent to my opposition to same-gender marriage and find that the bill is essentially marriage by another name.”

Gov. Lingle’s effort to thwart civil equality for same-sex couples was short-lived, however.  Only seven months later the newly-elected Gov. Abercrombie signed a new civil unions bill into law, and is now eager to sign the marriage equality bill.

The marriage bill now heads to the House for a joint hearing of the Judiciary and Finance committees on Thursday.

Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer