Thursday, 14 November 2013

Hawaii Passes Gay Marriage Bill, Becomes 15th State to Allow Same-Sex Unions

The Hawaii State Senate has passed a bill legalizing gay marriage, making it all but official that the island paradise will now be a same-sex wedding destination.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called lawmakers to a special session for the bill and has supported gay marriage, has said he would sign the measure.

Hawaii to Legalize Gay Marriage
It will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii, and even more tourists to marry in the Pacific Ocean state starting on Monday, December 2.
Senators passed the bill 19-4 with two lawmakers excused.
More than half the chamber's lawmakers spoke in support of the bill, with many urging the public to come together to heal divisions within the community.
It will also benefit the state economically. An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher it could boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years.
The Hawaii State Senate took up the bill a second time because of changes made in the House, where it was amended and eventually passed.
The House amendments delayed the dates ceremonies could begin, and slightly expanded an exemption for clergy and religious organizations.
It also removed regulations determining how children of same-sex couples could qualify for Native Hawaiian benefits, according to reports.
The measure is the culmination of more than two decades of debate in the state, where two women in 1990 famously applied for a marriage license.
This touched off a court battle and eventual national discussion on gay marriage.
The case led to Congress passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, part of which was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The decision that legally married same-sex couples could qualify for federal benefits led Abercrombie to call for the special session in Hawaii.
The Senate vote puts Hawaii alongside Illinois, where a bill legalizing gay marriage is also awaiting the governor's signature and appears imminent.
Another 14 states and the D.C. already allow same-sex marriage.

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