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Hawaii joint House committee advances same-sex marriage bill

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

HONOLULU — Two state House committees sent a bill that would legalize gay marriage to the full chamber Tuesday night, ending a five-day public hearing that exposed deep divisions in Hawaii on an issue being considered across the United States.

Members of the House Judiciary and Finance committees voted for the bill after hearing more than 55 hours of public testimony, leading to alterations in the measure.

HawaiiThe committees made three amendments. One strengthens provisions that exempt clergy and organizations from having to perform gay marriage ceremonies, modeled after a similar law in Connecticut. Another deletes language that governed how children of gay couples could establish Native Hawaiian parentage to qualify for state benefits. A third moves the date ceremonies can begin to Dec. 2.

The full House is expected to consider the bill in a second reading Wednesday morning, with the possibility of fully passing the bill Friday, House spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said.

The amendments mean the measure will have to be approved again by the state Senate, which passed the original bill last week.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called the special session and would be asked to sign the bill, said in a joint statement with Attorney General David Louie that the bill and its amendments are sound and should be passed by the Legislature. The executives said the amendments balance the concerns raised during the hearings.

The committee votes came after lawmakers wrapped up taking comments Tuesday afternoon from speakers given two minutes each to make their case.

“I think it’s probably the longest hearing ever in the history of Hawaii,” said Rep. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, thanking staffers and members of the public for sticking around for a hearing that began on Halloween.

Before voting, lawmakers took turns to explain their thoughts on the bill and the process in short spee ches that were at times emotional, personal and unmistakably political.

“Marriage needs help,” said Rep. Kaniela Ing, reflecting on his childhood and urging churches to change their views on people who are gay.

Rep. Mele Carroll said she supports equal rights for same-sex couples but is upset because people feel betrayed by their government because of the special session being used to hear the bill.

“I’m sad because of the process,” said a teary-eyed Carroll, who voted against the bill and said there hasn’t been enough time to discuss the issue.

Rep. Gene Ward, a Republican against the bill, said on the House floor Tuesday night that he planned to offer two amendments to broaden religious exemptions and exempt teachers from having to change classroom instruction because of the law.

Lawmakers initially planned to vote on the bill in second reading Tuesday night, but Rhoads said changes to the bill and a desire to let staff sleep led lawmakers to push the second reading to the next day.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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Filed under: Hawaii

34 more reader comments:

  1. Kylee

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:37am
  2. Go Hawaii…Shooting for #16 :-)

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:37am
  3. … BRAVA!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:38am
  4. <3

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:38am
  5. Yay! Another reason to visit Hawaii!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:38am
  6. Yay Hawaii!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:39am
  7. This is awesome I literally thought “soon Hawaii” when I saw the Illinois thing.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:41am
  8. Illinois did it earlier today and now Hawaii. Yay for #16!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:41am
  9. Yes we did Adam!!!

    Replied on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 5:21am
  10. Make it #16!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:42am
  11. sweet

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:44am
  12. Another reason to cheer!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:44am
  13. Hurray now just waiting and wanting it to pass here in Az

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:44am
  14. Yahooo “Aloha State” . . . . . !

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:45am
  15. :(

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:52am
  16. This all started in 1990 IN Hawaii! Can you imagine how these pioneers feel right about now? Happy days! Congratulations.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:16am
  17. Go Hawaii!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:17am
  18. YAY

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:27am
  19. Ellen M. Stavreff

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:34am
  20. Da’Nae Toledo

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:38am
  21. Yaaayy!!!! …from here in Honolulu, Hawaii

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:49am
  22. Getting there

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 4:55am
  23. right on

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 5:06am
  24. YES AWESOME!!!!!* :)))

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 5:08am
  25. Snowball effect leggo!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 5:51am
  26. …and they are falling like flies……YIPPY…I am so happy…..perhaps that is where we shall go to legalize our Wedding and our honeymoon.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 6:26am
  27. I thought you already could marry in hawaii? Well very happy you can now.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 7:44am
  28. Well done hawaii really pleased xx

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 8:29am
  29. Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 8:47am
  30. 16 down 34 to go!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 9:56am
  31. Awesome news! Let’s go all the way with this Hawaii! You can do it! :)

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 10:49am
  32. I guess I’m behind the times…I thought Hawaii already legalized it.

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 11:05am
  33. changes happening so fast. my head is spinning. conservative states electing openly gay mayors and whatnot. WHAT IS THIS CHANGE?

    Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:27pm
  34. super

    Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 1:30am