Honolulu, HI -
A special legislative session called for by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie to consider a proposed gay marriage bill convenes on Monday in Hawaii.
But while Abercrombie has pledged to sign the marriage bill and Democrats control both legislative chambers, the state's two-decade long back-and-forth on the issue hangs heavy over the heads of supporters.
"I think Hawaii has always celebrated its sense of Aloha for one another," Abercrombie told Reuters."This is a question of equity."
In 2011, Abercrombie signed a civil unions bill which his predecessor, Republican Linda Lingle, vetoed.
Pressure mounted for Hawaii to join the states where gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry after a June ruling from the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which led to the federal government recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.
Last week, New Jersey became the first state after the high court's ruling to move from civil unions to marriage. Illinois is debating whether to follow. However, movement in Colorado, the fourth state with civil unions, is hampered by a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a heterosexual union.
Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, a legal group which promotes LGBT civil rights, told Reuters that winning in Hawaii after 20 years would be a significant milestone.
"To win now through the political process in Hawaii would show just how far public opinion in our nation has evolved, and how quickly," Davidson said. "It would demonstrate that ...allowing same-sex couples the same right to marry that different-sex couples cherish only provides greater joy and security to more families, and harms no one."
Supporters planned to rally in Honolulu on Sunday, opponents on Monday.
(Related: In Hawaii ad, NOM says agree with gay marriage or you'll be punished