HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee voted to pass a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii. The vote came after nearly 12 hours of testimony from the public, as more than 400 people addressed lawmakers during Monday's public hearing before the Senate committee. In addition, Senate clerks say more than 4,000 pages of written testimony were also filed. Senators Mike Gabbard and Sam Slom were the only two to vote no on the measure. Senators Malama Solomon, Brickwood Galuteria, Les Ihara -- along with Chair Clayton Hee and Vice Chair Maile Shimabukuro -- all voted yes.
Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples are presently entitled to.
"This measure represents the Committee's best effort to balance the interests of supporters and opponents of this issue," said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. "The Senate's bill preserves religious freedoms and ensures that the rights of all Americans are preserved as enshrined in the United States and Hawaii Constitutions."
The decision marked the end to a day that began at 10 a.m. when Senators convened in chambers for the first reading of SB1, the "Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013", and immediately referred it to the Judiciary and Labor committee.
Eager advocates and opponents lined up as early as 7 a.m. for their chance to testify.
"I believe we should kill this bill SB 1 and offer the people of Hawaii an opportunity to vote," one person testified.
"I humbly, humbly ask you to stand up for marriage equality today," another said.
"A bill like this that goes to the roots of the people, it's something that violates much of their heart and souls," said a local pastor.
The bill will now go to the full Senate, which is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday. From there, it goes to the House, which has planned a joint hearing before the Judiciary and Finance committees for Thursday.
To review the bill, receive more information about special session, and keep updated about the bill's status, please go to:http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession.aspx?year=2013b.