Hawaii Democrats consider rebuke of 2 anti-gay marriage lawmakers


HONOLULU — The Hawaii Democratic Party is considering whether to rebuke two state lawmakers for introducing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, in defiance of the party’s platform.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday that party members are expected to meet on Oahu Aug. 10 to consider recommendations from a panel investigating Sen. Mike Gabbard and Rep. Sharon Har, who both represent Kapolei.

The panel says the lawmakers have the right to introduce bills, but have violated membership requirements of the party in a way that warrants sanctions.

Gabbard said that a ballot initiative to determine if gays should be permitted to marry would be the most democratic way to resolve the issue.

Gabbard is a former Republican who campaigned against promoting homosexuality in the 1990s. He pushed for a constitutional amendment giving the state Legislature the power to limit marriage to a man and a woman. The amendment passed in 1998.

The panel is recommending a tougher reprimand for Gabbard because the party believes he previously violated its platform on civil rights in 2009.

The state legislature did not take action this year on another bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii, leaving the measure tabled tabled for this legislative session.

Lawmakers said Wednesday they don’t have the two-thirds majority needed to call a special session to consider the marriage equality bill.

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Supporters of gay marriage have renewed a push on the issue in Hawaii since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that legally married gay couples can get federal benefits.

Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria says it’s not likely lawmakers will be called into session unless there is a good chance a bill would be passed.

Hawaii currently allows civil unions for same-sex couples.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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