As Hawaii debates legalizing marriage equality, a survey by the Civil Beat discovered that the public is divided on the issue, with 44 percent supporting marriage equality and 44 percent against such legislation. The remaining percentage was indecisive.
“This is the trend of the country,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted The Civil Beat Poll. “It is just something that people are moving on from. I think this is becoming less of a flashpoint. Not only that, those opposed to it are less fervent as well.”
In April 2012, Civil Beat discovered that 51 percent of Hawaiians opposed marriage equality and 12 percent remained undecided, showing the shifting trend compared to the most recent poll.
Hawaii’s legislature will be holding a special session on October 28 to discuss the issue. Governor Neil Abercrombie, along with the House and Senate Democrats, are optimistic that they have enough support to approve the bill. Their opposition comes from conservative organizations, particularly the Roman Catholic diocese in Honolulu.
Other faith leaders, including those from local Jewish, Methodist, and Unitarian congregations, petitioned in August for lawmakers to consider legalizing marriage equality.
“It’s all about standing on the right side of history…We will keep doing it until we’re all prayed out,” said the Unitarian Church of Honolulu’s Reverend Dt. Jonipher Kupono Kwong in a press release.
Because the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional on June 26, Hawaiian lawmakers believe it is no longer appropriate to prohibit same-sex marriages.
A report from the University of Hawaii discovered that marriage equality would boost the state’s economy by bringing in nearly $217 million.
“The benefits from pent-up demand for same-sex marriages are time dependent,” University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix said in the report. “If Hawaii waits to adopt same-sex marriage, it will not realize these gains. They will be lost forever, diverted to other states that recognize marriage equality.”
Hawaii only currently recognizes civil unions with no federal benefits included. If the special session fares on the side of equality advocates, same-sex marriage licenses could be granted as early as November 18, making Hawaii the 15th state to pass marriage equality following the recent victory in New Jersey.