A special legislative session called
for by Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie to consider a proposed
gay marriage bill convenes on Monday in Hawaii.
But while Abercrombie has pledged to
sign the marriage bill and Democrats control both legislative
chambers, the state's two-decade long back-and-forth on the issue
hangs heavy over the heads of supporters.
“I think Hawaii has always celebrated
its sense of Aloha for one another,” Abercrombie told Reuters.
“This is a question of equity.”
In 2011, Abercrombie signed a civil
unions bill which his predecessor, Republican Linda Lingle, vetoed.
Pressure mounted for Hawaii to join the
states where gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry after a
June ruling from the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA), which led to the federal government recognizing
the legal marriages of gay couples.
Last week, New Jersey became the first
state after the high court's ruling to move from civil unions to
marriage. Illinois is debating whether to follow. However, movement
in Colorado, the fourth state with civil unions, is hampered by a
constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a heterosexual
Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda
Legal, a legal group which promotes LGBT civil rights, told Reuters
that winning in Hawaii after 20 years would be a significant
“To win now through the political
process in Hawaii would show just how far public opinion in our
nation has evolved, and how quickly,” Davidson
said. “It would demonstrate that … allowing same-sex couples
the same right to marry that different-sex couples cherish only
provides greater joy and security to more families, and harms no
Supporters planned to rally in Honolulu
on Sunday, opponents on Monday.
Hawaii ad, NOM says agree with gay marriage or you'll be punished.)