HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the State Capitol to celebrate the latest step toward making such unions legal in Hawaii. But they noted that it was still just a step.
That's because Hawaii is not among the 12 states that currently allow same-sex marriages. Hawaii has allowed civil unions since January 2012. The state says last year, 730 couples entered civil unions, including Reka Domokos and Lynne Boyer, who've been together for nearly 20 years.
"I feel that it's not all the way there because we don't have it in Hawaii," said Domokos. "but it's going in a good direction. And this is a great step."
Some ask whether it's a step that the state can take. After all, in 1998, Hawaii voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that its supporters claimed would ban same-sex marriage.
"It doesn't ban same-sex marriage," said retired state supreme court justice Steven Levinson. "It gives the legislature a monopoly over the decision as to who will be eligible for marriage." He says the legislature could decide to make same-sex couples eligible as soon as February or March.
Opponents of those unions said the question should be put directly to voters. "Should marriage be between a man and a woman? Yes or no? And let's end this controversy right now, at least here in Hawaii," said former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.
Meanwhile, an attorney for Natasha Jackson and Janin Kleid -- a couple whose suit against the state for the right to marry is now before a federal appeals court -- said it may end up being decided by judges. "If the legislature doesn't do it first, then the court should overturn Hawaii's discriminatory system," said Clyde Wadsworth.
Meanwhile, couples at the State Capitol rally, like Domokos and Boyer, look forward to the time they can "walk down the aisle and invite all our family and friends. We haven't done that yet because we're waiting too, for the real marriage," said Boyer.
"Yeah, the real one. That's when we're going to have our big ceremony," said Domokos.
Related story: Hawaii lawmakers to discuss same-sex marriage recognition