Friday, August 29 2014 1:50 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:50:07 GMT
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Just hours before the opening of the same-sex special session, advocates on both sides of the issue are lining up at the State Capitol and Iolani Palace to voice their concerns.
A gathering organized by the Gay, Lesbian & Transgender Caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party attracted hundreds people at the state Capitol. Singer Willie K entertained the crowd and lawmakers and advocates talked about making Hawaii the 15th state to legalize gay marriages.
"I think we are going to make history here," said state Rep. Chris Lee, D-Kailua.
"This is a big change for the state but it is the right thing to do, to end discrimination, to treat everyone with respect and Aloha we all deserve."
The GLBT gathering came moments before the New Hope Church and New Hope Chapel Nanakuli hosted its own prayer vigil at Iolani Palace.
"It's going against our religious freedoms and religious rights. It doesn't give us the freedom to worship and preach what we believe," Ellie Kapihe of Windward Missionary Church in Kaneohe.
After trying for decades, supporters of same-sex marriages believe they finally have the votes in the state Legislature to legalize gay marriages.
"The time is now for marriage equality and we are very excited we are finally here. It's been a long seven and a half weeks since the (governor's) proclamation and we're feeling very confident," said Lois Perrin, legal director for ACLU Hawaii.
Added Kailua resident Jonathan Hawley-Malloy: "It's happening around the rest of the country and it's high time for Hawaii to step up and accept it."
Hawley-Malloy and his spouse Joshua Hawley-Malloy are federal employees, who are able to share their federal benefits only after they traveled to Washington, D.C. to get a marriage license.
"There are thousands of couples that are federal and military employees in Hawaii that could benefit from that federal benefits," said Joshua Hawley-Malloy.
The first public hearing is scheduled Monday at 10:30 a.m. in the capitol auditorium. We've also learned that the five-day special session could be extended to last two weeks.