A gay marriage bill in Hawaii is most
likely dead after a rescue effort to pull the bill from committee
failed yesterday, reports The Associated Press.
House Bill 444, which would grant gay
and lesbian couples all the rights of marriage, was marooned on
February 25 when it deadlocked on a 3-3 vote in the Senate Judiciary
Committee. The final tally came after a grueling 18 hour marathon
hearing session that ended at 3AM. The bill sailed through the House
on a 33 to 17 vote.
Yesterday, Senators attempted to rescue
the bill from committee and put it up for a vote.
But despite overwhelming support for
the bill, the motion failed to attract the 9 votes needed to pass.
Only 6 senators (Democrats Rosalyn
Baker, Gary Hooser, Les Ihara, Jr., Carol Fukunaga, Suzanne Chun
Oakland and Michelle Kidani) voted in favor of yanking the bill from
the committee and forcing a vote on the issue. Senators appeared
reluctant to go against Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who opposed
Hanabusa said she did not want to
circumvent the normal lawmaking process but still supports civil
unions. A large majority (18) of Senators had expressed support for
Opponents cheered the result.
“It affirms the will of the people,”
Dennis Arakaki, executive director of the Hawaii Family Forum, a
group that opposes civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
“Senators realized the impact of the issue. They may have been
looking for rationale of how they could either avoid the issue or put
it to bed.”
Senators were given pause to reconsider
the bill when the majority of testimony heard by the committee was
against the bill. Over 6,000 anti-gay protesters stormed the Capitol
the Sunday before the hearing convened. Participants of the
church-backed rally wore red to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ
and cited Scripture as reasons for their opposition to civil unions
for gay and lesbian couples.
Hawaii voters approved a constitutional
amendment that defined marriage as a heterosexual union in 1998,
overturning a state Supreme Court ruling that favored gay marriage