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Hawaii to become next state in same-sex marriage debate

Friday, October 25, 2013

HONOLULU — The island state that helped make same-sex marriage a national discussion more than two decades ago could be the next state to legalize it after more than two decades.

Many credit a Hawaii case that started in 1990 with prompting action in courts, statehouses and Congress, leading to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 that was eventually struck down this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

HawaiiNow, a special session starting Monday could make Hawaii the newest state to formally legalize gay marriage, a move proponents say would finish the job and exemplify the state’s fabled aloha spirit – while granting equality and spurring tourism.

Opponents have taken up many fronts. Some argue that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Others say the matter should go to a vote, not be rushed outside the regular legislative calendar.

For Dr. Allan Wang, a 56-year-old Hawaii doctor, the issue is about being treated fairly.

“It’s unfair that our amazing relationship – which we’ve been together over 33 years – our amazing relationship cannot be acknowledged,” Wang said, sitting next to his partner, Tom Humphreys, a longtime molecular biology professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Wang and Humphreys, 77, married in California in July, one month after entering a civil union in Hawaii and after decades of pressing for gay marriage in the state. Humphreys said they were effectively forced to marry outside Hawaii after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and told he had only a short time to live.

They married exactly one week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, granting federal benefits to legally married gay couples. Congress had passed the act in 1996 as part of a growing backlash to a case from Hawaii at the time, after a couple tried to apply for a marriage license in 1990.

Differences between civil unions and full-fledged marriage have been a key part of the debate in Hawaii. A lawsuit pending in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals argues that gay couples should be allowed to marry and shouldn’t have to settle for civil unions.

In calling the special session that begins Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said passing gay marriage would help resolve the lawsuit and put Hawaii in line with Supreme Court rulings, which don’t apply to couples in civil unions.

On Friday, the attorney general of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, filed a brief in the appeals case and another case from Nevada involving couples who argue the state’s ban is not constitutional. Attorneys general from 14 other states are listed as co-counsel.

Coakley said in the filing that civil marriage has been strengthened by removing barriers to access.

“Nevada and Hawaii marriage laws deny gay men and lesbians the fundamental right to marry and codify the second-class status – for its own sake – of same-sex couples and their families ,” the filing said. “Under any standard of constitutional analysis, they cannot survive review.”

Lawmakers and followers of Hawaii’s Legislature – which is heavily Democrat – say they’re confident a bill will pass, but not certain.

“It would appear that it’s going to be difficult for us to prevail, but we’re hopeful,” said Father Gary Secor, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu. “The history of the church is that we have not tended to always go with popular or prevailing opinion about things.”

Rep. Chris Lee, a Kailua Democrat who supports the bill, said legislators have been bombarded by passionate calls on both sides.

Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates, said coalitions from every Hawaii island are building to push for a public vote.

“They don’t support the concept of same-sex marriage. They don’t support the special session,” Hochberg said. “They want to vote on it.”

The legislative hearings are expected to d raw heavy crowds, with an opposition rally planned Monday night.

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85 more reader comments:

  1. Oh come on Florida get on the band wagon

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:31am
  2. I think florida is going to be tough but I hope they all fall like dominoes, we had been fighting a lot in nj

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:24pm
  3. yes,,now

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:35am
  4. And Texas

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:35am
  5. No shit Florida is sooooo freaking beyond. Shit they r slow

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:35am
  6. IMUA Hawaii! Equal Rights Now! Civil Rights Now! Federal Benefits Now! ALOHA Now! Marriage Equality and Equity NOW!! It is Pono!

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:35am
  7. Missouri needs to get on the band wagon too

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:36am
  8. Alabama as well

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:39am
  9. YES

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:40am
  10. I totally agree. Unfortunately there's that problem with the state constitution having been amended back in 2004 when the evil Karl Rove pandered to all the fundies and got them to get state constitutions amended around the country to prohibit gay marriage in order to get more wacko Bible-thumper voters out to vote for the even more evil George Bush and get him re-elected (re-stealing the election again), with Missouri being one of the victims of this stupid, idiotic, bigoted and discriminatory policy.

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:58am
  11. wow politics such a complicated and ridiculous thing

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 4:15am
  12. Again?

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:39am
  13. Finally

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:40am
  14. The battle began her 20 years ago. A constitutional amendment must be voided. That requires approval of the state legislatures and voters. But civil unions are legal in Hawaii.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:46am
  15. Yay thats where I would love to get married

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:47am
  16. Wisconsin needs to stop being bigots. Period. I’m tired of having them treat the LGBT community like dirt. We’re here and in their state, whether they like it or not.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:51am
  17. Wisconsin actually has a lot of protections for the LGBT community. The only thing they're missing is marriage.

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 1:10am
  18. Which Is Insane, Considering How We Are Oh-So Liberal And Supportive.

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:50am
  19. Wisconsin may have protections for the community but they never hesitated to try to oppose any bill involving same sex marriage or anything involving something positive with the LGBT community. Funny.

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:16am
  20. traveling to Hawaii next month to celebrate 20 years together.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:52am
  21. hell bring it too OHIO

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:52am
  22. This would be 15 right?

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:52am
  23. It’s about time. When for GA?

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:56am
  24. Wow about bloody hell time

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 1:02am
  25. That would be smart for the destination weddings

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 1:45am
  26. They were debating that back in 1997.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 1:48am
  27. Michigan is coming around. ;)

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 1:56am
  28. I am from Wisconsin. Things are much better here in Portland, OR. We have strong law to protect the LGBTQ people. And I am one of them.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:18am
  29. Great the number if states should increase and one day, people would be able to call it the United. States.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:19am
  30. This is going to come down to a cash vote. Hawaii is a huge destination for weddings. How much money are they throwing away every year they delay this inevitable vote?

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:25am
  31. Go Hawaii

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:37am
  32. this is not an American flag!

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:11am
  33. No its the State flag of Hawaii

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 11:44am
  34. It’s needs to be approved in ALL states.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:12am
  35. texas needs to be next.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:15am
  36. That’s not the Hawaii State flag is it? Was it ever under British rule?

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:16am
  37. No, it was added as a sign of friendship between the Kings of the two countries.

    Replied on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 11:46am
  38. @David Hliva–we were never under British rule. The Union jack was added so that ships that were sailing from potential antagonist countries would see it and be intimidated. Hawaii’s King and Britain were friendly.

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:54am
  39. Georgia could do this too, but I guess the closed minded bigots in state govt. dont care how much money they’re loosing, Tybee Island & Jekyll Island have been great wedding venues for straight couples for years & could be for same sex couples as well…..maybe someday. :D

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 4:36am
  40. We’re here, we’re queer and we ain’t gonna disappear …

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 4:40am
  41. Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:39am
  42. Arizona? Please do this!

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:44am
  43. Their debate has been going on since the 1990′s!

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 12:38pm
  44. All the states that have not legalized it should all be “next”!!! It should just automatically become law in all 50 states!!!

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 2:18pm
  45. We are inviting everyone to JOIN, PARTICIPATE and Be a part of Quezon City World Pride Festival!

    For inquiries and details on how you can make a change, email us at qcpridecouncil@gmail.com or send us a message!

    BE PART OF THE HISTORY!!

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=195386847312169&set=a.157377441113110.1073741829.157374021113452&type=1&theater

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 3:06pm
  46. Just curious – can anyone out there explain the flag in the picture ?

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 4:12pm
  47. This is all a question of equal protection under the law. We have used the 19th amendment justify blacks marrying whites, the same should apply here

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:12pm
  48. Love the flag .still a bit a England in Hawaii

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 5:52pm
  49. Yep but its not united states yet thats coming

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 8:57pm
  50. Florida with that big gay community what they waiting for christmas

    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 8:59pm
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    Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:55pm
  52. still waiting for PA!!!

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 12:22am
  53. make it happen!

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:13am
  54. You’d think if someone wanted to get married so badly they’d go to a state that has already legalized it.

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 12:03pm
  55. Well, its about time, and Pennsylvania should get with the program!

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 4:57pm
  56. Way to go!

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:52pm
  57. Let’s see the aloha!

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:54pm
  58. Didn’t you hear me!! THEIR SHOULD BE NO DEBATE!!!! GET IT??

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:55pm
  59. *there

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 1:57am
  60. Well, since there has to be, at least it's under way

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 2:27am
  61. I’m from Hawaii, I really hope they’re next.

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:56pm
  62. I thought they already had it…

    Posted on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 11:57pm
  63. Equality Everywhere !

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:01am
  64. WHOOOOO HOOO! I’ll make sure to post on Sweet TV!

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:03am
  65. Well done to the country

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:03am
  66. Another reason to move to Hawaii!!!

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:24am
  67. You can do it Hawaii. And for the record, there should be no debate over human rights.

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:28am
  68. Wow thats whats up im happy for ppl in hawaii……..next florida ugh i hope i pray for that day….

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:31am
  69. why is the union flag on there im british and I don’t get that

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:34am
  70. That is the Hawaii State Flag.

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:39am
  71. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Hawaii

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:40am
  72. I know I just don't get why the union flag is on there if its part of america

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:42am
  73. its cool I get it now it just seemed odd at first I haven't seen that flag before thanks for the link

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:43am
  74. Probably b/c Captain Cook of the British navy "discovered" them.

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 3:14am
  75. haha well I didn't know that they don't teach us about the british empire over here

    Replied on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:50pm
  76. Civil union is what they have now ..not the same I know we went and got married there and it is a civil union not a marriage

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:43am
  77. It was legal for a day.

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 12:44am
  78. Yay!!!

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 1:21am
  79. Come on Hawaii. We can do this.

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 2:00am
  80. Twenty years ago is where the debate began. It indirectly led to DOMA.

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 3:13am
  81. Hawaii allows civil unions, btw.

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 3:16am
  82. well, constitutionally the federal government doesn’t have the right to make “marriage” rules, so the states generally regulate it, and that means we have to go thru the rather painful process fifty-odd-times.

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 5:06am
  83. And we gonna do the right thing to because its not about a law or a religion it’s about love. It’s a sharing a caring and an occasional not caring as well The togetherness not only in times of joys but struggles as well. Just as the sky is blue there will be someone one disagrees with but this is above all that noise!

    This is now and always will be about love!

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:25am
  84. Come on Hawaii. You can do it!

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:38am
  85. Time for Florida too!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 at 10:24am