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House leaders caucus on Supreme Court gay marriage issue

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Jun 26 2013 04:46:41 PM HST
Updated On: Jun 27 2013 05:14:09 PM HST

Following the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA, Hawaii State Legislature will revisit its stance on gay marriage.

HONOLULU -

Church bells ring in times of both sadness and joy.

Today they rang out at a Makiki church.

There were 50 chimes for 50 states after landmark rulings supporting gay marriage.

"John Dunne, an Anglican priest once said. ‘Ask not for whom the bells toll.’ So, the bells are a reminder that we are part of a larger community. Today we are ringing the bell 50 times because we are praying for our country and giving thanks for our democracy," said the Rev. Michael Arase-Barham of St. Clement’s Church.

At the state Capitol on Wednesday, House lawmakers said they will begin polling their 51 members if they should go beyond civil unions and allow same-?sex marriage.

"The House leadership team does not want to dictate a result on this. We really want members to make their own decision on how to proceed with this," said House Majority Leader Scott Saiki.

 To some it’s an easy decision -- a question of fairness.

"Clearly you have seen heterosexual couples who receive federal benefits and save thousands of dollars. So the question is, are we going to afford same sex couples that same opportunity?" said Rep. Chris Lee.

Judiciary Chairman Karl Rhoads thinks with the Supreme Court ruling, the stakes are higher this time.

Click here to see which Republicans support same-sex marriage.

"People who were on the fence before, this will push them over on the same-sex side with the understanding that civil unions aren't good enough," said Rep. Rhoads.

 "The expectation is that equality is coming. It is not a matter of if, but when. The bills that were introduced last session could be reviewed again, if lawmakers want to make this next step," said Jacce Mikulanec of Equality Today.

Hawaii Family Forum, on the other hand, urged lawmakers not to decide this on their own. Instead it says put it on the ballot and let voters choose.

“Hawaii had the conversation in the 1990s. We amended our constitution defining marriage between one man and one woman. So I think the Legislature really needs to go back to the constitutional process if they want to change the marriage laws," said Jim Hochberg.

House lawmakers began polling their members Wednesday,  and said they may have the results in a couple of weeks.

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