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Hawaii Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill

Hawaii is halfway to becoming the 15th marriage equality state.  Last night 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.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding