After hours upon hours of testimony from Hawaii citizens and very contentious debate among House members on a number of amendments, the Hawaii House passed the legislation legalizing marriage equality by a margin of 30-19 with two excused. On October 30, the state Senate passed the measure by 20-4. There was a slight amendment, so the bill went back to the Senate for a concurrance vote on November 12 and was approved. Now, the legislation will go to Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has said he will sign the bill into law.
This move will make Hawaii the 16th state to legalize marriage equality, and as a part of a cluster of states passing marriage equality. A bill legalizing marriage equality just passed the Illinois legislature. New Mexico's Supreme Court is about to issue a ruling on marriage equality in that state.
Hawaii was where the national conversation about marriage equality first began in 1993, when the Hawaii Supreme Court rules it was discriminatory to deny marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples. The Hawaii legislature later added a constitutional amendment that limited marriage to straight couples. The House debate was particularly difficult. Public testimony stretched for 5 days to allow over 5,000 citizens to provide testimony. Opponents of marriage equality attempted to add 29 amendments, most of which failed.
"At last, Hawaii has extended its Aloha spirit to all couples and families," said Wilson Cruz, GLAAD's national spokesperson. "It's good to see the state come full circle on marriage equality and join so many other states in treating all its citizens equally."