Hawaii lawmakers to discuss same sex marriage recognition
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gary Bradley and Paul Perry were among the very first couples in Hawaii to get a civil union, which was a thrill but it wasn't enough.
"If you love someone you love them and it shouldn't matter," said Gary Bradley, marriage equality advocate. "I'm feeling like I'm treated like a second class citizen."
Bradley and Perry are disappointed the Supreme Court is not mandating the country recognize same sex marriage. Instead each state will decide on its own which means Hawaii is left in limbo because civil unions are not the same as marriage.
Right now Governor Neil Abercrombie doesn't know if more legislation is required or what it should say.
"In the end Hawaii stands for justice, it stands for equality, and whatever is necessary to accomplish that we'll do," said Governor Abercrombie.
His former Republican gubernatorial opponent Duke Aiona believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. He says today's ruling means the state should take a vote. And not like the 1998 constitutional amendment that said let legislature decide, but to allow the actual voters to choose.
"Should marriage be between a man and a woman, you decide. Don't let the legislature decide, let us decide this, our community, our society, our state," said Aiona, who said he hasn't decided if he will challenge Abercrombie for Governor.
"We will be having full discussions with the members of the majority caucus on the ruling and its ramifications. I expect we will come to some decision as a caucus as to how we want to proceed," said Rep. Joe Souki, (D), House Speaker in a written statement.
At stake are more than 1,100 federal benefits heterosexual couples enjoy but same sex couples do not which is why advocates say there is plenty of lobbying yet to do.
"This is just one step closer for all of us for full marriage equality and that is exactly what we want," said Bradley.
Bradley has already contacted each of the state lawmakers urging them to support same sex marriage.
He says they don't want special treatment, they just want equal treatment.
Here is some of what Hawaii's elected leaders are saying:
"The Supreme Court deeming the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is a victory for all Americans. Today's decision means that LGBT individuals across the country are given the same rights under federal law as every married couple, and equal treatment under the law. Because of this decision, the federal government can no longer tell men and women who they can or cannot marry, and same-sex married couples can now enjoy the same federal benefits as the rest of us. I have always believed in marriage equality, and will continue to do everything in my power to help our LGBT friends and loved ones achieve equality," said Senator Brian Schatz, (D) Hawaii.
"It has been a historic day, but we still have work to do. It is time for Hawaii to join that growing chorus of voices across our nation in proclaiming that we will not tolerate discrimination in marriage. I am proud to have helped pass Hawaii's civil unions law for the first time, which offered couples equal rights under state law. That was the best we could do at the time, but now that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages, our state should amend its laws, end discrimination in marriage, and make marriage equality in Hawaii a reality. They can count on my support," said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, (D) Hawaii District 1.
"I applaud the Court's decisions to uphold the constitutionally guaranteed protections and equality to which we are all entitled. Ultimately, government should have no place in the most personal aspects of our lives. Until that day comes, all people must be treated equally under the law. The Supreme Court's ruling is welcome," said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, (D) Hawaii District 2.
"This is a historic day for civil rights and marriage equality in America! I am heartened by the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA and Prop 8. We have certainly come a long way," said Senator Mazie Hirono, (D) Hawaii, on Facebook.
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