News (USA)

Hawaii Senate advances same-sex marriage bill past 2nd vote

Hawaii Senate advances same-sex marriage bill past 2nd vote

HONOLULU –The state Senate advanced a bill to legalize gay marriage during a special session Tuesday, sending it to a final floor vote that would get the legislation to the House.

The final Senate vote is planned during a session that starts Wednesday morning. The bill is expected to pass there easily, then travel to the House where its prospects are less certain.

Hawaii-flag The Senate’s brief floor session Tuesday was far different than a committee hearing Monday that lasted nearly 12 hours with nearly 4,000 pages of written testimony and about 400 people testifying in person.

The bill passed its second reading with no amendments and no attempts to try to block it from moving forward.

Sen. Clayton Hee, who led the public hearing Monday as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, thanked those who testified and helped organize the logistics of the crowded hearing.

Hee said people understood the gravity of the issue at hand.

“I think for the most part people had the opportunity to express themselves,” Hee said.

Those who testified Monday were asked to limit their comments to one minute, then were cut off at two minutes. The testimony ranged widely on points in favor of or opposing the bill, touching on everything from religion and science to classroom education and personal experience.

Hee said 40 percent of written testimony came in favor of the bill, while 60 percent opposed gay marriage or the special session being used to consider the legislation.

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Some who came to speak Monday complained when Hee and other lawmakers occasionally excused themselves for short breaks, which Hee said was mainly to use the bathroom.

Hee raised the issue again Tuesday, poking fun at Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria for an extended absence during the hearing.

Senate Vice President Ronald Kouchi responded by saying Galuteria had a minor surgical procedure, then returned to the Capitol . He then offered the floor to Galuteria.

“It had something to do with where the sun don’t shine,” Galuteria said.

A joint committee hearing in the House has been scheduled for Thursday if the bill passes the Senate.

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