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Hawaii congressional delegation calls for state to legalize marriage equality

Hawaii congressional delegation calls for state to legalize marriage equality

HONOLULU — The state’s four-member congressional delegation issued statements Friday urging Hawaii lawmakers to pass immediately a state measure for marriage equality.

U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and U.S. Representatives Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard released statements of support, each urging Governor Neil Abercrombie and the state legislature to pass the freedom to marry in Hawaii without delay.

The coordinated statement was released by Hawaii United for Marriage, a coalition of religious congregations, businesses, labor unions and community organizations.

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“Equality goes hand-in-hand with Hawaii’s values and with what the majority of Americans hope to achieve,” Schatz, in a statement. “Our country took an important step towards achieving marriage equality, and now it’s time for Hawaii to step up and allow same-sex couples to marry.”

Gabbard said she disagrees with “a two-tiered, discriminatory government policy of ‘marriage’ and ‘civil unions.’”

Hawaii allows civil unions, but those do not qualify a couple for federal benefits.

“Government officials, judges, and bureaucrats should not have the power to declare one relationship ‘morally’ superior to another. As long as government is involved in the marriage business, it must treat all Americans as equal,” said Gabbard, in a statement.

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The push comes after June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed legally married gay couples the right to federal tax and health care benefits.

Blake Oshiro, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, said he is open to calling for a special session. Otherwise the vote would be in January.

Recent polls by Hawaii United for Marriage show support across the state for legalizing same-sex marriage.

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