After two decades of attempts, Hawaii has just passed same-sex marriage into law. The vote was 19-4, with two excused. Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, is expected to sign the legislation during a special invitation-only event tomorrow. The Aloha state is now the sixteenth to extend the institution of marriage to same-sex couples.
Speaking in the lead up to the actual vote today, Senate Judiciary chairman Clayton Hee delivered a beautiful speech, invoking the marriage of Edie Windsor and her love for Thea Spyer, the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA, and how it ties into the Hawaii Constitution.
“The Hawaii state constitution gives broad discretion to allow for recognition of same-sex marriage,” Senator Hee said.
“We are here today,” Hee told his colleagues, “to enact legislation centered around the values of citizenship, value, and courage.”
Senator Hee asked, “Whose Christian God is correct?… Whose should we believe?” He invoked two iconic U.S. Senators from Hawaii, the late Daniel Inouye, and Daniel Akaka, who both have supported marriage equality.
Hee concluded by reading from email sent to him by Edie Windsor herself. Windsor asked the Senator to “do whatever it takes to get the bill passed.
— Mileka Lincoln (@MilekaLincoln) November 12, 2013
Many Senators offered moving testimony in support of the legislation.
“I go to church and play the organ every Sunday,” Senator Roz Baker said. “I keep asking myself: Why are people so afraid of folks they don’t know?” Baker pointed to financial difficulties and domestic violence as the true threats to marriage.
Sen. Russell Ruderman condemned the outpouring of anti-gay hate he saw during public testimony. “What I did not expect was the outpouring of hatred and intolerance,” Ruderman admitted, adding, “Yes, religious organizations legally can discriminate against LGBT people, but that doesn’t make it moral. We should ask ourselves: ‘Who would Jesus hate?’”
That question could easily have been answered by Senator Sam Slom, the Senate’s lone Republican, who delivered a seemingly endless speech attacking same-sex marriage, Obamacare, Democrats, and conflating marriage equality somehow with the wars in the Middle East.
— Marcel Honore (@marcelhonore) November 12, 2013
The historic vote, during which the state Senate affirmed the changes the House made to SB-1, the same-sex marriage bill, comes after two full weeks of testimony and debate in both chambers of the state legislature — and after a battle that began in 1991 by three same-sex couples who challenged the law for their right to marry.
That initial court battle set off a wave of anti-gay legislation across the nation, one that President George W. Bush rode to via his so-called “compassionate conservatism.”
Today’s proceedings were opened by two quotes from Abraham Lincoln. The first, from the Gettysburg Address, the second, from his second inaugural address.
Finally today it’s clear, after more than two decades, that same-sex couples will be afforded the same rights and responsibilities their heterosexual peers are given at birth.
Image by Honolulu Civil Beat via Twitter
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