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House leaders prepared to avoid a clash on day of critical same-sex vote

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Nov 07 2013 06:42:00 PM HST

Friday is shaping up to be the biggest day yet in Hawaii's same-sex marriage debate, and security is getting ready for possibly the biggest crowds so far. It's the final house vote on the highly-charged bill, and both sides will be out in force to support their viewpoint.

HONOLULU -

A determined group made up primarily of church ladies from Chinese Lutheran church and New Hope Leeward started in a prayer circle at the state Capitol, but would soon branch out.

Lobbying was the mission today, but ever so gently.

They went door-to-door armed with boxes of Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

A drastic turnabout from the scene yesterday as opposing sides of the same-sex marriage issue clashed in the rotunda.

Some fear a repeat or worse -- that the crowds could get physical as the showdown of the final house vote ticks down.

"We will be beefing up security for the protection of everyone here at the capitol. The plan is for us to have extra sheriffs here and possibly police officers here during the floor session," said majority leader Scott Saiki.

Meanwhile, for most of the morning the coco-puff brigade rewarded legislators who voted their way.

They applauded Rep. Jo Jordon, who some believe is the first lesbian lawmaker who voted no on the bill in protest of the process.

"She is trying her best to hear her people. She is the one I have to give more credit.  I was touched, and I was inspired, because I almost wanted to give up," said Min Zhu of the Chinese Lutheran Church.

The church members also bent the ear of lawmakers who didn't side with them with kindness and persistence.

“Once again, we voice our opposing voice to SB1,” they told Judiciary Chair Rep. Karl Rhoads as they spotted him outside his office.

House leaders remain confident that yesterday's 30 to 18 second reading vote advancing the bill will hold.

"I'd be surprised if it changed by more than one or two," said Rhoads.

House sergeant-at-arms Kevin Kuroda reached out to some leaders from both sides of the issue.

There is an agreement to try and keep the two sides separated to try and minimize any clashes.

"We are going to spilt the rotunda in half and we will  have proponents on the mauka side and opponents will be on the makai side, so there will be less interaction between them and it's expanded further that we will go into the chamber so each side will be treated fairly," said Kuroda.

The plan also calls for keeping sign-wavers for the two groups on opposite sides of the Beretania Street.

Click here to see more pictures from the special session.

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