Hawaii House gives initial nod To gay marriage bill

Thu. November 7, 2013 8:56 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Honolulu, HI - The Hawaii House on Wednesday gave an initial nod to a proposed bill which seeks to make Hawaii the 16th state to legalize gay marriage.

House members voted 30-18 to advance the bill after nearly 11 hours of debate.

The marriage bill is being considered during a special session called for by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The debate has attracted hundreds to Hawaii's capitol. More than 1,000 of the 5,184 people who had signed up to testify showed up to speak during a 5-day marathon House hearing. A large number of those testifying said that they opposed gay nuptials based on religious grounds.

As Wednesday's session got underway, a large crowd of opponents gathered outside the House chamber chanting "Let the people vote!" and later "Kill the bill," disrupting the debate going on inside.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro, a Democrat, introduced 8 floor amendments to the bill, all of which were voted down. One amendment attempted to extend the bill's religious exemptions to include individuals and businesses.

Representatives also rejected a referendum on the issue proposed by Oshiro with a 28 to 19 vote. The amendment's failure provoked opponents in the House gallery to erupt with chants of "Let the people vote!"

A separate amendment by Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican, also sought a popular vote on the issue. It was also rejected.

Rep. Gene Ward, also a Republican, introduced three amendments. One sought to allow parents and teachers to opt out of instruction on homosexuality. Ward said that it was needed to "inoculate" children from such teachings.Another amendment would add a "conscience exemption" for individuals. Ward's final amendment sought to exempt churches from the state's public accommodations law. All three amendments were defeated by voice vote.

Before the vote was called, McDermott made a motion to delay it indefinitely, arguing that lawmakers needed more time to consider the issue. The motion failed 30-18.

A final House vote is expected to take place Friday.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine