Lawmakers talking special session for same sex marriage

Published: Jun. 28, 2013 at 9:12 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2013 at 1:23 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two days after the Supreme Court made its rulings on same sex marriage Hawaii lawmakers are talking about a special session to pass marriage equality in the state.

Keep in mind there have been sessions to override vetoes and there was a special session for the Superferry so some lawmakers say marriage equality is a big enough issue to resolve sooner rather than later.

Momentum is already changing on the same sex marriage issue. State Senator Will Espero for one voted against civil unions in the past, but has now changed his mind and says he will vote to support marriage equality for all.

"My position has evolved as well and I would support same sex marriage as long as there was the religious exemption for churches," said State Senator Will Espero, (D) Senate Majority Floor Leader. "If you just watch what has been going on in the last few years society and attitudes have been evolving and are changing and I feel it is inevitable this will happen it's just a matter of time."

Time is a question. Lawmakers are assessing interest to call a special session to vote on same sex marriage.

"I think that a special session would be an appropriate way to handle this issue. We could deal with it early and decisively," said State Representative Scott Saiki, (D) House Majority Leader.

A special session can happen one of two ways, at least two thirds of the house and senate members would have to agree to convene or the Governor can call for a session. His office says they're focused on signing bills into law right now but it's unknown what the future holds.

"As to be expected everyone has a different opinion on what should be done," said Rep. Saiki.

"Because it is an important issue one could argue that having a special session just on this gives it 100 percent of the attention and focus," said Sen. Espero.

A special session would cost about $29,000 a week. Lawmakers say it could be worth it because same sex marriage is sure to take away time and resources from other important issues during the next regular session.

"This could be a controversial and contentious issue and vote and getting it out of the way so we're not distracted with the issues during session would probably be beneficial for the legislature," said Sen. Espero.

And if it's done earlier there would be more time for angry voters to forget by the 2014 elections.

"Never underestimate the cowardice of a legislator up for reelection," said Dan Boylan, Political Analyst. "I think in this instance everybody recognizes that they've got to deal with it now that the Supreme Court has so they're either going to do it now or they're going to do it in the next session."

Are the votes there? There appears to be a majority in both chambers for same sex marriage, but perhaps not a supermajority. So if a special session happens it may have to be called by the governor. If not it is almost sure to pass next regular session which starts January 2014.

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