State House Approves Marriage EqualityNovember 8, 2013
For Immediate Release:
Today’s State House of Representatives vote moves Hawaii one step closer to granting Hawaii’s gay couples the freedom to marry.
“The special session hearings allowed lawmakers to thoroughly review the arguments on all sides,” said Jacce Mikulanec, board member of the Japanese American Citizens League and a founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage. “This issue has been part of a statewide debate for over twenty years. We believe that most senators and representatives are finally acknowledging that a silent majority in our community believe that it’s time to end discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in Hawaii.”
The House vote came after lawmakers reviewed thousands of written testimonies on all sides of the debate including statements from over 8,000 testifiers in support. Lawmakers also conducted the longest legislative hearing process in state history. They listened to testimony including opponents of marriage equality who were told to “waste time” in order to stall the lawmaking process.
“We are gratified by the vote in the State House, but the process needs to take another important step. That’s because the Senate and House versions are different, and both sides need to agree on a final version in order for Hawaii to have marriage equality,” said Lois Perrin, ACLU-Hawaii Legal Director and a founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage.
The measure has divided Hawaii’s religious community, with some churches in support and others opposed. Members of the labor and business communities have joined the governor and Hawaii’s Congressional delegation backing the rights of gay couples to legally marry in Hawaii. Local and national public opinion polls show increasing majority support for gay marriage. In an unusual step, President Barack Obama weighed in on the debate, saying he “would welcome a decision by the Legislature to treat all Hawaii couples equally.”
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages. Hawaii has a civil unions law, but does not allow gay couples to marry.
“This all boils down to a simple choice: Do we want a Hawaii that condones discrimination by one group of people against another group of people, or do we want a Hawaii that treats all people with fairness and respect—no matter what their religion and no matter who they love.” Perrin said.
Hawaii United for Marriage is a statewide coalition of religious congregations, businesses, labor unions and community organizations. More information is available at www.HawaiiUnited.org