More than 5,000 people signed up to
testify at a hearing considering a proposal to legalize gay marriage
Thirty House members from two
committees heard from constituents on the issue during a joint
hearing which ended after midnight. Lawmakers planned on resuming
the hearing on Friday morning. An additional 15,000 pages of written
testimony were submitted ahead of the hearing.
Thursday's hearing started a day after
the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation.
But the bill is having a rockier ride
in the House, where votes are tight.
Amendments expanding the bill's
religious exemptions to include businesses were expected to be filed
in the House.
Opponents insisted that the issue was
“If they don't know what's going to
happen, why are we rushing this?” Melanie Vakalabure, 26, testified
However, Hawaii has been debating the
issue for over two decades.
In 2011, Governor Neil Abercrombie, a
Democrat, signed a civil unions bill which his predecessor,
Republican Linda Lingle vetoed. Abercrombie said that he called this
week's special session in response to the Supreme Court's June
decision striking down the Defense of Marriage (DOMA), which left gay
couples in civil unions unable to access federal benefits.