Gay Marriage Bill Clears Hawaii House

Sat. November 9, 2013 10:12 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Honolulu, HI - The Hawaii House on Friday gave its final approval to a proposed bill which seeks to make Hawaii the 16th state to legalize gay marriage.

The bill cleared the House with a 30-19 vote after 12 hours of debate.

Opponents of the bill introduced 16 amendments aimed at derailing the measure, all of which were rejected on voice votes.

The move comes two days after the chamber gave its initial approval to the bill during a session that lasted nearly 11 hours and saw 12 unfriendly amendments voted down.

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.

Large crowds gathered outside the House chamber on Wednesday and again on Friday.

The issue has been debated in Hawaii for over 20 years. In response to a landmark 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court case that struck down the state's law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, voters in 1998 approved a constitutional amendment which gives lawmakers "the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples."

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry applauded the House vote: "With today's vote by the Hawaii House of Representatives, we are close to bringing the freedom to marry home in the state where it all started."

The Senate approved the marriage bill last week during the same special session called for by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie. The Senate will revisit the bill on Tuesday to consider amendments approved during the House committee phase.

"I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic vote to move justice and equality forward," Abercrombie said in a statement. "I am confident that the Senate will address the bill in the same spirit.I look forward to a successful conclusion to this major step in affirming everyone's civil rights."

If the bill is approved, it will take effect on December 2.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine