The Hawaii House on Friday gave its
final approval to a proposed bill which seeks to make Hawaii the 16th
state to legalize gay marriage.
The bill cleared the House with a 30-19
vote after 12 hours of debate.
Opponents of the bill introduced 16
amendments aimed at derailing the measure, all of which were rejected
on voice votes.
The move comes two days after the
chamber gave its initial approval to the bill during a session that
lasted nearly 11 hours and saw 12 unfriendly amendments voted down.
The debate has attracted hundreds to
Hawaii's capitol. More than 1,000 of the 5,184 people who had signed
up to testify showed up to speak during a 5-day marathon House
hearing. A large number of those testifying said that they opposed
gay nuptials based on religious grounds.
Large crowds gathered outside the House
chamber on Wednesday and again on Friday.
The issue has been debated in Hawaii
for over 20 years. In response to a landmark 1993 Hawaii Supreme
Court case that struck down the state's law limiting marriage to
heterosexual couples, voters in 1998 approved a constitutional
amendment which gives lawmakers “the power to reserve marriage to
Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry
applauded the House vote: “With today's vote by the Hawaii House of
Representatives, we are close to bringing the freedom to marry home
in the state where it all started.”
The Senate approved the marriage bill
last week during the same special session called for by Democratic
Governor Neil Abercrombie. The Senate will revisit the bill on
Tuesday to consider amendments approved during the House committee
“I commend the House of
Representatives for taking this historic vote to move justice and
equality forward,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “I am
confident that the Senate will address the bill in the same spirit.
I look forward to a successful conclusion to this major step in
affirming everyone's civil rights.”
If the bill is approved, it will take
effect on December 2.