Late in the afternoon on October 28, the Hawaiian Senate panel passed the state’s same-sex marriage bill. The move towards legalizing marriage equality was voted in 5-2.
Democrat Mike Gabbard and Republican Sam Slom voted against the bill, with Slom arguing that if gay people wished to get married they could easily go to California. His remark was in response to Attorney General David Louie’s comment that passing the bill was important because forcing same-sex couples to go to mainland America to marry was “not an insubstantial burden,” financially.
Some members of the Senate questioned the need for full marriage equality, considering same-sex civil unions are already legally recognized. Opponents also pressed the religious encouragement of keeping marriage between a man and a woman in order to “protect” children.
Those arguing for the bill said that people shouldn’t have to wait for marriage equality; it should be a basic civil right. Louie said, “We believe this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it, and the Legislature has the right people to make it happen.”
Passing the bill was no easy feat, with almost twelve hours of intense, heated debate within the Senate. Reportedly around 1,800 people signed up to testify at the Senate committee hearing, which explains the length of the proceedings.
Clayton Hee stated, “This measure represents the Committee’s best effort to balance the interests of supporters and opponents of this issue,” adding that the bill “preserves religious freedoms and ensures that the rights of all Americans are preserved.”
The Bill still needs to be passed by a full Senate vote, followed by the House Judiciary and Finance committees on the morning of October 31.