Senate approves same-sex marriage bill, heads to Governor for signature
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As supporters of same-sex marriage reached out to each other in joy, several opponents stood up to leave in disappointment.
"We're pleased to have the privilege of enacting historic law. We stand on the principles of equality and justice and liberty for all and mostly we stand on the principal that all marriages are now equal," said Senator Clayton Hee, who chairs the Senate's Judiciary committee.
"Today's passage of Senate Bill 1 marks a pivotal moment in our State's history, a moment enshrined in equality and justice," said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, who introduced the bill. "Working together with our colleagues in the State House we have come to a compromise which provides a balance between religious freedom and equal rights."
SB 1, HD 1 expands the bill's original religious exemptions to protect clergy from refusing to perform wedding ceremonies and religious institutions from being compelled to allow wedding celebrations or provide wedding goods or services to a same-sex couple.
The Senate's decision came down after several hours of passionate -- and in some cases very personal — explanations for their vote.
"As one of six members in this chamber of the only recognized indigenous aboriginal maoli people of this state, it is with great pride that I stand here today," said Senator Gilbert Kahele, who voted for SB 1 HD 1.
Senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland's voice cracked with emotion as she described her support for the bill.
President Barack Obama, a "keiki o ka aina", as one lawmaker described him released the following statement following the Senate's vote:
"I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality. With today's vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation. I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder. And Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be now given the security and respect they deserve."
"I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms," said Governor Neil Abercrombie, who is scheduled to sign the bill Wednesday morning at the Convention Center. "Today,we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us," the statement from the Governor's Office went on to say.
Hope for healing and that "aloha will prevail", as one Senator put it, was the focus following the roll-call vote. One Senator declared "there's no room for hate in the 808", as nother described watching opponents and supporters both embrace the lyrics of "Hawai'i 78" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
"All families are families -- not just a man and a woman -- all families are made of love," described Senator Michelle Kidani, who voted for the same-sex marriage bill.
Once signed by the Governor, it will go into effect December 2, 2013.
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