Abercrombie: Decision soon on gay marriage special session

Abercrombie: Decision soon on gay marriage special session

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie says he's satisfied everyone's point of view has been taken into account and he'll decide soon whether to call a special session on same-sex marriage.

"Everything that could possibly be said has been said. Every issue that could possibly be worked on has been, so it's just a matter now of taking a look at what the final wording of the bill might be and I'll make a decision very shortly," said Gov. Abercrombie.

The Governor was greeted with applause by same-sex marriage supporters as he ducked into a private caucus with House Democrats this morning. He says his principal concern is that people's rights are respected.

"I hope people will conclude, whether you're for this or against this, that your views have been taken into account in a respectful way and that we can move on from this issue with the same kind of respect for one another, regardless if our views differ. These are fundamental issues. These are conscience issues," Gov. Abercrombie explained.

Not everyone was pleased with the Governor's perspective.

"This is not about special rights. Marriage is not a right, it's an institution. By approving of this unnatural union – it's like malfunction – people are malfunctioning," said Paul Chapman, who chased after the Governor as he left the caucus room saying: "Don't do it. You'll bring down the curse of God upon Hawai'i."

Father Jack Isbell of Saints Francis & Clare Parish Ecumenical Catholic Church disagrees. He went to the Capitol today to persuade Representatives to pass same-sex marriage legislation.

"It's about love and love is something expressed in all the world religions, and I think everyone in love wants to be able to get married," said Father Isbell, who has been with his partner for 33 years and is legally married in California.

Lawmakers met to review the latest same sex marriage bill draft with Governor Abercrombie and state Attorney General David Louie. Representatives say there are still some concerns about the language in the proposal, specifically the exceptions for officiants and religious property.

"The Legislature and the Administration are trying to be sure that both religious freedom is protected and the equal protection aspects of 14th Amendment are taken into account as well," explained Representative Karl Rhoads, the House Judiciary Committee Chair.

Representatives say today's meeting was productive and respectful.

"I think we all enjoyed the frank discussion. It was a discussion I believe will help people make a decision in the next few days," said House Speaker Joe Souki.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is the importance of vetting the bill now, so that if a special session is called, it will be efficient.

"The bill that the Governor presented to us today has been worked over pretty thoroughly, but I think as a result of today's discussion and issues that were raised it will probably continue to be worked over," said Rep. Rhoads. "Whether the Governor calls us back in or not, there's a lot of prep work that has to be done to try to work out the language so that it's a bill that can be dealt with as quickly as possible."

Opponents say special session or not, they hope the bill doesn't pass.

"Two men and two women don't belong together," Chapman said. "Men and women come together in marriage to have children – that's how the human race grows."

Supporters say they're holding their breath and staying hopeful.

"We've waited before, we can wait again," said Father Isbell. "It took a while and we won't give up, but we shall overcome."

Special sessions can constitutionally last a month, but lawmakers say nobody wants that. During their discussion Friday morning with the state Attorney General, Representatives say it was made clear to them the 1998 Constitutional Amendment specifically tasks the Legislature with settling this issue.

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