Hawaii's same sex marriage bills face crucial deadline

Hawaii's same sex marriage bills face crucial deadline
Published: Feb. 11, 2013 at 10:43 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 12, 2013 at 4:52 AM HST
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Steven Levinson
Steven Levinson
Lois Perrin
Lois Perrin
Walter Yoshimitsu
Walter Yoshimitsu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If lawmakers don't schedule a hearing on the same sex marriage bill by tomorrow, it likely won't advance this year.

Supporters of House Bill 1109 and Senate Bill 1369—two proposals that would legalize same sex marriage in Hawaii—rallied at the State Capitol today.

"It's a landslide around the world and in our country and yet, we who started it all 20 years ago are still waiting in line," said retired Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Steven Levinson. "It's time to do it now."

But that time is running out. If lawmakers fail to schedule a hearing before the Judiciary Committee in either Chamber by tomorrow, the bills will likely die.

"It means that we leave our LGBT brothers and sisters in the same position that they are now and given them absolutely no additional protection and treating them like second-class citizens," said Lois Perrin, ACLU of Hawaii's Legal Director.

Opponents believe the same sex marriage bills aren't being put before either the House or Senate Committees because they don't have the votes.

"Many of the legislators have said that I am ok with civil unions, but not marriage," said Walter Yoshimitsu, Director of Hawaii Catholic Conference. "So if we were to look at the votes with civil unions it might not translate to the same votes for same sex marriage."

Opponents say state legislators should wait on the issue, until the Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rule on whether the right to same sex marriage is in the Federal Constitution.

"A lot of our constituents feel like this issue was solved in 1998, and so they're wondering why it's coming up again and we'd like the Legislature to let people in the community make that decision rather than they do it statutorily," said Eva Andrade, the Executive Director of Hawaii Family Forum.

For now, the only certainty is the passion on both sides.

"We know that marriage is only between a man and a woman," said Jim Hochberg, President of Hawaii Family Advocates.

"We believe that folks – all people – are welcome into God's family," said Reverend Jeff Lilley of the Lutheran Church in America.

Supporters of the same sex marriage bills say they are looking into some procedural options that could keep the bills alive this session, if a hearing isn't scheduled by tomorrow.

Opponents say they want Hawaii's voters – not lawmakers – to have the final say.

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