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 the effort.

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 the bill.

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 advocates.