Businesses already receiving inquiries on same-sex marriages
Same-sex couples are apparently reading the legislative tea leaves, planning Hawaii marriage ceremonies even before state lawmakers take action.
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Wedding officiant June Dillinger has received several phone calls from gay couples hoping to tie the knot in Hawaii.
"When they call they ask, 'So, what's going on with the bill? Is it legal in Hawaii yet? What do you know? What's happening?'" said Dillinger.
In fact, Dillinger has already begun planning a same-sex marriage ceremony for two men who recently met with her in her office at Unity Church of Hawaii.
"They had driven around the island, they had chosen the place where they wanted to have their wedding, (and) they knew where they wanted to have all their guests stay," said Dillinger. "It was fantastic."
Gov. Neil Abercrombie has already indicated his willingness to sign a same-sex marriage bill into law, and has called lawmakers into a special session, which begins Monday. The state Senate has been solidly in favor of gay unions for some time now, and it appears the House also has enough votes for passage of a bill.
According to a draft of the same-sex marriage bill scheduled to be introduced by the Senate next week, the effective date would be Nov. 18.
Amateur photographer Jhonny Rox-Hollywood sees the bill as a vehicle to take his hobby to the next level. Rox-Hollywood began snapping photos about two years ago after receiving a camera as a gift. Soon, friends noticed his keen eye and began asking him to shoot photos of civil unions, which have been legal in Hawaii since 2010.
"The community is in love with me and I've been getting rave reviews," said Rox-Hollywood. "Now, I'm getting a lot of requests; I already got my fourth one just this week. It looks like I might be able to make this more than just a hobby."
A University of Hawaii study co-authored by professor Sumner La Croix and Lauren Gabriel, says the state could see an economic benefit of $217 million over the next two years if same-sex marriage is legalized. However, any economic boon may be tied to the timing of legislation.
"The additional gains in visitor spending are time sensitive: Spending by U.S. same-sex couples and their guests on honeymoons and marriages will be diverted to other states until Hawaii recognizes marriage equality," the study stated.
Meanwhile, Rox-Hollywood could be among those adding to Hawaii's economy in the near future. He and his boyfriend Justin Pigott plan to marry in February on their eighth anniversary together.
"As long as it's here in Hawaii, we don't care where we shoot it because there are no bad spots," he said.
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