Hawaii Senate passes same-sex marriage bill
The Hawaii Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Tuesday before sending the special session to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
The bill allowing same-sex couples to wed starting Dec. 2 passed in a 19-4 vote with two lawmakers excused.
Senators took up the bill a second time because of changes made in the House, where the bill was amended and passed after a five-day public hearing and two lengthy floor sessions.
An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says the law will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years.
Senate made two decisions Tuesday. First, senators decided to accept the amended bill from the House. After that, the final vote was taken.
Abercrombie has indicated he would sign the bill as currently written.
KITV4 News will be LIVE on the air and online with the signing of the bill when it happens on Wednesday.
"In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality. We embrace the Aloha spirit and respect one another. Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us,"said Abercrombie. "I believe this bill provides equal rights for all people, is legally sound, and is in accord with the Hawaii State Constitution. I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms."
President Barack Obama praised the bill's passage, saying the affirmation of freedom and equality makes the country stronger. He says the vote makes him "even prouder" to have been born in Hawaii.
Maui Democratic Sen. J. Kalani English said the bill is an "expansion of aloha in Hawaii."
Sen. Sam Slom, the chamber's only Republican, said the government should stay out of legislating marriage.
The Hawaii Republican Party released the following statement:
"The Hawaii Republican Party appreciates that so many people, on both sides of this issue, passionately participated in the hearing process on this bill. However, what Hawaii witnessed during this special session was unprecedented -- a democrat super majority side-stepped important issues like lowering the high cost of living for working class families or improving our keiki's education, and instead pushed through controversial legislation in just ten days. Governor Abercrombie and the Democrat political elite decided that Hawaii's people are unfit to vote on important issues. Citizens may have been denied the right to vote on this issue, but next November they will not be denied the opportunity to vote on who represents them."
Copyright 2013 by KITV The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.