As a special session opened Monday in
Hawaii to consider a gay marriage bill, a vote count shows supporters
have the votes needed to make Hawaii the 15th state to
legalize such unions.
to the AP, a Senate committee hearing attracted intense interest,
with roughly 1,800 people signing up to testify in person. Another
4,000 pages of written testimony were submitted ahead of the hearing.
The special session was called by
Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie, who has pledged to sign the
marriage bill, if approved by lawmakers.
“I think Hawaii has always celebrated
its sense of Aloha for one another,” Abercrombie told Reuters over
the weekend. “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, placing couples in a civil union
on an unequal footing in terms of benefits.
While overwhelming support exists in
the Senate, the House remains farther divided on the issue. However,
according to Hawaii
News Now, 27 House members have expressed their public
support for the measure. Twenty-six votes are needed for a bill to
clear the chamber.
Representative Mark Takai, a Democrat,
told the outlet that he's evolved on the issue since voting against
“Just like a lot of other people
throughout this nation and also throughout this state, I think for me
personally I've gone through a process and evolution,” Takai said.
“I'm grateful for this opportunity this next week to vote yes,
because it's the right thing to do.”