POLL: Should same-sex marriage be left up to lawmakers or voters?

Published On: Oct 29 2013 10:27:32 AM HST
Special session
HONOLULU -

Should the legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii be left up to the lawmakers or the voters?

Click here to vote in our online poll!

  • Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate

    By Paul Drewes
    Published On: Nov 14 2013 12:24:21 AM HST
    Updated On: Nov 14 2013 06:50:49 AM HST

    Those who support same-sex marriage were out Wednesday night celebrating the new law legalizing it.

    HONOLULU -

    After Hawaii's same-sex marriage bill was signed into law many involved in the fight for equal rights celebrated the milestone moment.

    "It is time for celebration, time for reflection, time for us to reach out to our communities and ask them to accept people. Accept our gay brothers and sisters, that is what we hope will happen," said Lois Perrin, with ACLU Hawaii.

    Some who came out to Hula's in Waikiki for a celebration Wednesday evening said they finally felt accepted.

    "Now it feels like we are part of one whole community, instead of two separate communities," said Makakilo resident Isaac Mureno.

    The fight for marriage equality has been a long one. It started over 20 years ago. The battle not only took place in Hawaii but also spread to the rest of the nation.


    Joining in the fight were thousands in favor the measure -- including many who shared their support at the State Capitol.

    "This year was the year. Mainly thanks to all the people who testified boldly in the face in the not-so-friendly crowd. They just fought and stood up to champion equal rights for all," said Hawaii Rep. Kaniela Ing.

    That equality could also provide a boost to Hawaii businesses involved in weddings, and also those involved in tourism.

    "Because of what Hawaii did you are going to get more Australian couples who are going to come here to get married. So, of course, it is going to increase the economy," said Australian resident Lachelle Uzcateguigaymon.

    At the celebration in Waikiki, couples shared drinks and danced together as they and their friends looked forward to the future.

    "Thursday morning we have to wait to see how Judge Sakamoto rules on the temporary restraining order (TRO) hearing. After that I think it will be smooth sailing. Then on Dec. 2 people will be able to get their marriage licenses and we will have equality in the state. It will be a great day," said Blake Oshiro, Governor Abercrombie's Deputy Director.

    The TRO hearing is an effort by same-sex marriage opponents to stop gay marriages from happening until a trial is held over the 1998 constitutional amendment. In that amendment, Hawaii residents voted that a marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session on same-sex marriage.

  • Bill signing puts marriage equality over the rainbow

    By Catherine Cruz
    Published On: Nov 13 2013 06:24:00 PM HST

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the same sex marriage bill into law on Wednesday.

    HONOLULU -

    Three weeks of high political drama came down to this.

    “Allow me to sign with this koa pen and sign fully and completely you will all approve that I intend to give this pen to Judge Levinson. Done!” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said emphatically as he signed Senate Bill 1 into law.

    "People criticize the timing, but it is never the wrong time to do the right thing," said Rep. Chris Lee.

    This would be a time of tears and cheers.

    Full of hope, and sharing a story of a lesbian couple trying to enroll their child in school -- rejected by one, then accepted by another.

    "She said, I told the lady upfront we are a two-mommy family and the lady at Sacred Hearts said, 'Your daughter is welcomed here," said Sen. Clayton Hee.

    With the formal signing, marriage equality is Hawaii law and now on the books.

    One of three couples who initially sued for those rights more than 20 years ago was overcome with joy.

    "This is a huge accomplishment for me personally and I that this will make this a better place for everyone to live in.  I believe that," said a teary-eyed Genora Dancel.

     Dancel's former partner Ninia Behr couldn’t be here, but Behr’s niece was proud to represent her.

    "I am very thrilled as I have recently become a member of the gay community as well, to know my family in a small way, pioneered the way for others," said Halie Behr-Gutierrez. 

    And for a young girl born to a two-mommy family, it may have been the greatest 14th birthday present ever.

    “It means a lot to me and my family, and not just our families, but for families like ours,” said Shylar Young.

    Families no longer invisible, no longer outsiders, now part of a movement marching forward.

    "We were married in Massachusetts in 2009.  Today, we really feel we are part of the country," said Tambry Young.

    And the lawyers who helped fight the tide were no less proud of what was accomplished today.

    "I was co-counsel on the case that launched this global movement with Dan Foley, so it's very sweet to be here.  Now, we have to bring the aloha and justice that we saw today in Hawaii to the entire United States," said Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry. 

    "It is an amazing day. We had hoped this day would come sooner than 16 years later but it's finally here, and we are grateful for all the work of people who made it a reality," said former Sen. Matt Matsunaga.

     Tim Earhart, who has been ministering to gays for more than 40 years in Hawaii could hardly believe this day has come.

    "This is one of the most important days of my life. I am just elated, just elated. I am so-o happy!" said Earhart.

    You might say, he and others are simply over the rainbow.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session on same-sex marriage.

  • Gov. signs same-sex marriage bill into law

    Published On: Nov 13 2013 10:50:00 AM HST
    HONOLULU -

    Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a gay marriage bill into law during an invitation-only ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center.

    It happened Wednesday morning in a theater in the convention hall near Waikiki.

    The signing comes the day after the state Senate passed the bill on Tuesday.


    The measure will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2.

    Senators passed the bill 19-4 with two lawmakers excused.

    An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says gay marriage will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years.

    The measure is the culmination of more than two decades of debate in the state.

    President Barack Obama, a Hawaii native, wrote on Twitter, "Hawaii just became the next state to embrace marriage equality.  Congratulations to the Aloha State.  #LoveIsLove"

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session.

  • Supporters and opponents react to Senate Bill 1

    Supporters and opponents react to the passing of Senate Bill 1 at the State Capitol.

  • Supporters and opponents react to passing of the same sex marriage bill

    Supporters and opponents of the same sex marriage bill react to the passing of the bill at the State Capitol

  • Hawaii Senate passes same sex marriage bill

    After three hours, the Hawaii Senate passed the same sex marriage bill, which Gov. Abercrombie will sign into law on Wednesday.

  • Same sex marriage bill passes final vote in Hawaii Senate

    In a 19-4 vote, the same sex marriage bill passed in the Hawaii Senate.

  • Hawaii Senate passes same-sex marriage bill

    Published On: Nov 12 2013 12:56:00 PM HST
    HONOLULU -

    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."

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session.

  • Sen. Clayton Hee: 'A defining moment as an elected official'

    By Nana Ohkawa
    Published On: Nov 09 2013 07:31:00 PM HST

    Senator Clayton Hee calls this(quote) "a defining moment as an elected official."

    HONOLULU -

    Sen. Clayton Hee calls it "a defining moment as an elected official."

    On Saturday, Hee, Chair of Judiciary Committee, recommended the Senate pass the Hawaii Senate pass a bill allowing same-sex marriage.

    Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's report.

    "The fact that the bill wasn't amended allowed us to make the recommendation today," said Hee.

    Tensions were high Friday as the House vote took more than 12 hours to pass the bill 30 to 19.

    However, Hee predicts the hearing with senate members on Tuesday will be swift and predictable.

    "I have the status sheet and there were 29 amendments offered by the House. I would be very surprised if that were to occur in the Senate. That's simply not how we conduct ourselves," said Hee.

    The lone Republican in the Senate, Sam Slom, who voted against the bill, said he will make an opposing comment and will vote no again, but he thinks the vote will stay the same as it did on its third hearing -- 21 to 4 in favor.

    Hee said security will remain tight. There will be the same separated spaces and tight security in place as Friday night.

    "Quite frankly, I don't know why it would come to that, but unfortunately the human dynamics up to this point that those kinds of preventions are necessary," said Hee.

    Same-sex marriage supporters marked today's recommendation as a great day.

    "Now we hope the rest of the Senate members are as happy with the outcome as we are," said Jacce Mikulanec with Equality Hawaii.

    Others aren't so anxious for Tuesday.

    "I think it's the Legislature not listening to people and 'ram-rodding' stuff down our throats again," said Larry Litoto, who is opposed to the bill.

    The bill will be heard by the Senate at 10 a.m. Tuesday. If it passes, it heads to Gov. Neil Abercrombie who could sign it as soon as Wednesday morning.

  • House passes same-sex marriage bill in final vote

    Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:32:17 AM HST
    Updated On: Nov 08 2013 11:23:35 PM HST

    The final votes are tallied up for the same-sex marriage bill.  Video courtesy: Capitol TV/Olelo

    HONOLULU -

    The Hawaii House of Representatives has passed a special session bill legalizing gay marriage, setting up a final approval by the state Senate before it's sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

    Click here to watch the voting roll call.

    House lawmakers approved the bill Friday night after a 12-hour session with breaks, capping more than a week of public testimony and debate that drew passionate crowds both for and against gay marriage.

    The measure to allow same-sex couples to wed starting Dec. 2 passed 30-19 with two lawmakers excused.

    The bill needs renewed approval from the Senate because of changes made by two House committees. The Senate passed an earlier version last week.

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie has previously urged both chambers to pass the bill as currently written.

    The Senate is expected to consider the bill Tuesday.

    "The Senate is currently reviewing the proposed House amendments to Senate Bill 1," said Senator Clayton Hee, chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. "Each member will evaluate the House Draft and we will meet to discuss the next appropriate step for the Senate to consider."

    The House draft includes amendments, modeled after similar language in Connecticut law, significantly broadening exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization. Religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempted from having to furnish goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnizations if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith.

    It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith. The measure also grants immunity from administrative, civil and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, goods, or facilities as described.

    The issue was discussed in House committee hearings spanning five days and nearly 57 hours of public testimony. There were 5,184 registered testifiers, with over 1,000 people testifying, and nearly 24,400 written testimonies submitted. As far as House members could recall, the public hearing on SB1 was the longest hearing on a single bill in the modern history of the Hawaii House of Representatives. Based on concerns and issues raised during the public hearing the bill was amended to expand the religious exemptions for churches and religious organizations that do not want to solemnize same gender marriages.

     Click here for more information on the bill.

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    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage


    Click here to see more photos from the special session.

  • 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.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see more pictures from the special session.

  • Senators ready to consider House same-sex marriage bill

    By Andrew Pereira
    Published On: Nov 07 2013 06:17:00 PM HST

    The Hawaii State Senate is preparing to receive the same sex marriage bill if it passes with the House Finance and Judiciary Committees' amendments.

    HONOLULU -

    As members of the state House vote Friday on final passage of a same-sex marriage bill, their colleagues in the Senate will be watching closely.

    On Tuesday, the House Finance and Judiciary committees amended the Senate bill (SB1, HD1) to further protect churches and other religious organizations from the threat of lawsuits if they rent their facilities to the public.

    Click here to watch Andrew Pereira's report.

    Under the original version of the bill (SB1), churches would have to rent their facilities to gay couples if they made those facilities available to anyone outside of their congregations. The amended version of the House bill protects churches from the threat of lawsuits or government penalties if facilities or services are denied to same-sex couples.

    The House bill states the following:

    "...a religious organization or nonprofit organization operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization shall not be required to provide goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage that is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith."

    The bill goes on to say that if a church or religious group fails to provide goods, services or facilities for the solemnization of marriage, they "…shall be immune from any fine, penalty, injunction, administrative proceeding, or any other legal or administrative liability for the failure or refusal."

    Although some Hawaii lawmakers have expressed deep concern over weakening Hawaii’s public accommodations law, some senators say it may be the best compromise that satisfies same-sex supporters and opponents.

    "This looks like it strikes a very good balance in terms of what both sides have been requesting, and the feeling is now that we certainly want to see something passed," said Sen. Will Espero, a west Oahu Democrat.  

    The House version of the same-sex marriage bill is modeled after the law in Connecticut, which legalized gay marriage in 2008.

    Majority Leader Sen. Brickwood Galuteria believes the Connecticut model may stretch the limits of what his colleagues are willing to accept.  

    "Connecticut may be about as far as the Senate would possibly go,” Galuteria told KITV4. “But, it's probably going to be what's sent over to us. So, we'll take a look at that."

    On Thursday, same-sex marriage opponents in the House tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill further. However every attempt, including two amendments that sought a public vote on the issue, was turned back. Representatives eventually approved the version that passed the House Finance and Judiciary committees by a vote of 30-18.

    Garret Hashimoto, state chairman of the Hawaii Christian Coalition, said on Wednesday he’s satisfied with the public accommodations protection afforded to churches under the House version of the same-sex marriage bill. Nevertheless, he's concerned about church schools being forced to accept children of activist same-sex couples. 

    "I would think the churches would accept them, but they would have to follow the guidelines of the school and the church,” Hashimoto said.

    Still unknown is what may happen to a same-sex marriage bill if Senate votes down the House version. In that scenario, the two competing versions would go to conference committee where lawmakers attempt to reach common ground.

    "I think it's problematic if you have to go to conference, because now the issues come up and that goes for other bills as well,” said Sen. Clarence Nishihara, a Pearl City Democrat. “Whenever you have a conference, sometimes things fail right?"

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session.

  • Both sides claim win in same-sex marriage lawsuit hearing

    By Jill Kuramoto
    Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:21:43 AM HST
    Updated On: Nov 08 2013 10:50:39 AM HST

    A Circuit Court judge denied a temporary restraining order filed by state House Republican Bob McDermott, in what was an attempt to stop the Governor from signing a Same Sex Marriage bill into law.

    HONOLULU -

    A Circuit Court judge denied a temporary restraining order Thursday filed by a state House Republican in what was an attempt to stop the governor from signing the same-sex marriage bill into law.

    But both sides in the lawsuit are claiming victory.

    Click here to watch Jill Kuramoto's report.

    Judge Karl Sakamoto signaled on Thursday that the same-sex marriage battle is likely to wind up in a courtroom.

    But, today isn't the time.  He's unwilling to ban the governor form signing a bill that hasn't even passed yet.

    State Attorney General David Louie  says that would essentially block legislators from doing their jobs.

    "Nobody.  Nobody is going to go down to the Legislature and stop the Legislature from legislating, which is what they were originally asking for," said Louie.  "And nobody is going to stop the governor from exercising his constitutional duties to sign a bill into law if he chooses."

    Click here to see the interview with Attorney General David Louie.

    But, the constitutionality of a Marriage Equality act is where things could get sticky.  Voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1998 giving lawmakers the power to reserve marriage to heterosexual couples.

    The judge now wonders whether voters might have thought at the time they were prohibiting same-sex marriage, not giving the Legislature the power to define marriage.

    The state says the 1998 amendment gives them that power.

    "I guess the bottom line here is that the power of the Legislature to enact this law is clear.  It's constitutional.  It's within the Legislature's authority," said Louie.

    State Representative Bob McDermott says when voters passed the amendment in 1998, their intent was an all-out ban.

    "What the voters thought they were voting -- the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples only," said McDermott.  "That word 'only' is key.  That was mailed to every voter in 1998."

    Click here to watch the interview with Rep. Bob McDermott.

    Judge Sakamoto says if this new bill indeed passes, and the governor signs it into law, he will be open to hearing a challenge at that point.  McDermott says he'll be there, ready and waiting.

    "We will be back the moment it is signed and challenge the constitutionality," said McDermott.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see pictures from the special session.

  • Same-sex marriage bill advances to final vote

    By Paul Drewes
    Published On: Nov 06 2013 10:28:00 PM HST

    As the marriage equality bill gets closer to becoming law Hawaii residents of both sides get louder and make their views be known through their rallying.

    HONOLULU -

    A day of debate between lawmakers ended with House representatives voting to advance the same-sex marriage bill.

    All Wednesday, outside the House chamber the chants of "let the people vote" were deafening. Those gathered called for lawmakers to allow voters to decide the issue of same-sex marriage at the ballot box.

    Click here to watch Paul Drewes' report.

    Inside the House chamber, the chants periodically overpowered representatives as they debated amendments on the House floor. Some lawmakers also echoed the same sentiments as they gave their speeches.

    "Why are you not listening to them? They want a constitutional amendment, we have before us an amendment calling for a constitutional amendment," said Rep. Bob McDermott.

    While one group has been the most vocal during this debate, those residents are not the only ones getting their message out. Even many who did not give testimony at the State Capitol made their views known to their representative.

    "It is not just about people who show up at the Capitol. Those who are in the gallery or gathered in the Capitol Rotunda, many more could not make it here to testify," said Rep. Cindy Evans.

    When it came time to vote a pair of amendments, which would have taken this issue to voters, was defeated.

    After that, lawmakers turned their attention to whether students, teachers and families would be able to opt-out of sex education in the schools if the curriculum disagreed with their personal beliefs.

    "We need to protect our children. Mother after mother said, 'I don't want our kids to learn how homosexuals make love to each other,'" said Rep. Gene Ward.

    "If you go to a school and say, 'I don't want my child exposed to the homosexual lifestyle'. They don't teach the homosexual lifestyle in our schools, so there is nothing to opt-out from," stated Rep. Roy Takumi.

    The amendment failed along with others which would have given other exemptions for religious organizations. Just before seven in the evening, the debate zeroed in on the same-sex marriage bill that was passed out of committee with amendments.

    "This is probably the toughest vote of our careers but we were elected to do the job.
    The time for delay has come and gone. Justice delayed is justice denied," said Rep. Della Au Belatti.

    Now that they House version of the Senate Bill passed its second reading it will be heard by the full House again on Friday.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see more pictures from the special session.

  • Same-sex marriage bill advances

    By Paul Drewes
    Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:03:01 AM HST
    Updated On: Nov 06 2013 06:22:34 AM HST

    After hearing from supporters and opponents, dozens of House representatives showed how they felt about the measure by casting their vote.

    HONOLULU -

    After days of talking, it was time for voting over Hawaii's same-sex marriage bill on Tuesday.

    Dozens of House Representatives had listened to supporters and opponents, then showed how they felt about the measure by casting their vote.

    Click here to watch Paul Drewes' report.

    The same-sex marriage bill advanced through the house, as a pair of House committees voted 18 to 12 in favor of it.

    Around the Capitol, supporters greeted the news with cheers,
    while those against reacted with chants calling for lawmakers to again let the people vote over this issue.

    During five days of testimony this bill generated a lot of numbers:

    57 - the number of hours of testimony; 5,128 - the number of residents who signed up to speak; 24,000 - the number of written testimonies submitted.

    Even with all that input, some still felt their voices were not heard by lawmakers.

    "They really didn't listen to the people. We were asking for more time to give this bill the attention it deserved. They made a few amendments that I am happy with," said Kahuku resident Mimo Pearl.

    One amendments broadened the religious exemptions, another deleted the provision over parental rights and a third moved the date same-sex marriage ceremonies could begin to Dec. 2.

    During all of the testimony and voting here in Hawaii another number has popped up: 15 - the number of states which now approve gay marriage.

    "I know that Illinois just passed it and they are the 15th. I was hoping we would be the 15th, but 16th, as long as it passes I'm OK with that," said Kapolei resident Queenie Toilolo.

    Others are not OK with the way lawmakers have been voting and many will remember how legislators voted next year.

    "I do see that people are nervous and threatening legislators if they didn't vote their particular line of reasoning," said Honolulu resident Juliet Begley.

    "We want to see who is voting for it and who is against it, because we are already gearing up for the 2014 elections," said Mililani resident Margaret Scow.

    The measure will get a second reading Wednesday morning when it is expected to get a full vote by the House.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session.

  • House committees pass same-sex marriage bill with amendments

    Published On: Nov 05 2013 05:45:00 PM HST

    Equality bill moves on to the full state House of Representative after two committees passed the marriage equality bill.

    HONOLULU -

    Two Hawaii House committees are moving forward a bill to legalize gay marriage to the full chamber.

    Members of the House judiciary and finance committees voted for the bill Tuesday night after hearing more than 55 hours of public testimony that led to alterations in the bill.

    Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

    The committees made three amendments to the bill. One strengthens religious exemptions for clergy and organizations. Another deletes language governing Native Hawaiian parentage and a third moves the date ceremonies can begin to Dec. 2.

    A House spokeswoman says the full House will consider the bill in a second reading on Wednesday, with the possibility of fully passing the bill on Friday.

    The amendments mean the measure will have to be approved a second time by the state Senate, possibly on Tuesday.

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    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see more photos from the special session.

  • Integrity of SHOPO president called into question after public testimony

    By Brenton Awa
    Published On: Nov 05 2013 06:31:00 PM HST

    The integrity of an HPD officer is being called into question after his testimony at the same sex marriage public hearing.

    HONOLULU -

    The integrity of an HPD officer is called into question after his testimony on the marriage equality bill. SHOPO president Tenari Ma'afala stands behind what he said at Monday's hearing. Ma'afala said if this bill passed and he was retired, he'd be a lawbreaker.

    Click here to watch Brenton Awa's report.

    But that doesn't mean Ma'afala would be committing hate crimes. Instead, the 24-year police veteran said the only rule he would break is not allowing his children to go to school on any certain day where they might have to learn sex education.

    "You would have to kill me to disrespect my father in heaven, you would have to kill me to impose these types of laws upon my children," Ma'afala said during Monday's hearing.

    Ma'afala made it clear where he stands on same-sex marriage, but he also made it clear that he would currently abide by any law whether he's wearing a badge or not.

    "The day I retire and bills like this are introduced, I will never honor such law," said Ma'afala during Monday's hearing.

    "Everybody has a right to their opinion, if that's how they view me, that's on them," said Ma'afala.

    Still, his comment struck a nerve with supporters of this bill, including a gay HPD officer. In a letter obtained by our partners at Civil Beat, officer John Zuezheim writes:

    "I am beyond words with how shocked, appalled and horrified I am that any officer, much less the president of SHOPO, would identify himself as such," said Zuezheim.

    The letter addressed to Chief Kealoha and Ma'afala goes on to say;

    "Ma'afala has single-handedly destroyed any trust not only from this community directly, but also the friends and family members of this community," said Zuezheim.

    "John, just as well as anyone else has a right to their opinions and I hope one day he and I can sit face to face and speak," said Ma'afala.

    Meanwhile, some supporters of this bill are proud that the SHOPO president stood up for his beliefs.

    "He testified exactly what he needed to say to the public. We don't want our children to be confused in this matter," said Eric Paulo, an opponent to SB1.

    Others say they won't let these remarks reflect their opinions of all HPD officers.

    "It just tells me that there's a lot of education that I expect Chief Kealoha to do with him as well as hopefully the mayor will step in to make sure this gentleman gets the diversity training he so desperately needs," said Michael Golojuch, chair of Honolulu Pride.

    "If this law were to pass today, I would still work to enforce the law as it's stated. I would enforce every and all laws and again, discriminate against no one," said Ma'afala.

  • Day 4 of House hearing on same-sex marriage

    By Brenton Awa
    Published On: Nov 04 2013 07:11:00 PM HST

    By this time on Tuesday, House committee members might be ready to vote on the controversial same-sex marriage bill. Between now and then, more public testimony from hundreds more people.

    HONOLULU -

    Day four of the public hearing for the marriage equality bill looked a lot like days one through three.

    Click here to watch Brenton Awa's report.

    "If you strongly believe in your own values, why do you fear they'll come undone due to the happiness of other peoples lives," said a testifier."

    "An eighth grade teacher that teaches about gay sex thoroughly, expressively, and when parents complained about it he said, give me a break, it's legal now," said another testifier.

    Education is a topic that comes up a lot from opponents. Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi says this measure will not change what's taught in the classroom.

    "The issue if people are married or not married is not part of our curriculum," said Matayoshi.

    One thing that did change is security at the hearing. ID's of testifiers are being more strictly checked after reports of some people trying to cheat the system.

    Samantha DeCorte isn't one of them, she is however the very last person to register to get her voice heard, testifier number 5,184.

    "If I had one minute it would be worth it, if I had 30 seconds it would be worth it. The point is that I'm here and I'm taking a stand regardless of the outcome and I can say I did my best to make a difference," said DeCorte.

    Other testifiers are still demanding the issue go to a public vote. Representative Tom Brower says a vote would be great but it wouldn't be favored by the courts.

    "If the people decide something and then this is brought to the courts, the state courts with the help of previous federal decisions could get really involved and overturned the peoples decisions," said Brower.

    Representative Brower thinks the house will pass this bill but might try to make some changes. Any amendments would re-open negotiations and could extend the session.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage


    Click here to see photos from the special session.

  • Day 3 of public testimonies on same-sex marriage bill

    By Nana Ohkawa
    Published On: Nov 02 2013 06:22:17 PM HST
    Updated On: Nov 03 2013 07:59:15 AM HST

    Another emotional round of public testimony in the House. It's the third day of discussion on the same sex marriage bill, and it's expected to last late into the night.

    HONOLULU -

    Saturday saw another emotional round of public testimony in the House. The third day of testimonies on the same sex marriage bill is expected to last late into the night.

    Click here to watch Nana Ohkawa's report.

    Saturday is the third day William Talley has bused from Waikiki to the capitol. He's back in line like many others anxiously waiting to testify on the same-sex marriage bill. More than 3,000 people have already testified and there are at least 1,500 to go.

    "I'm back again this morning thinking maybe the line is going to move. Maybe I'll get my testimony in," said Talley.

    "It's very physically exhausting but I'm also tremendously grateful to have a voice. I'm grateful to be able to be heard," said ChrisAnn Moore.

    The overflowing crowd would raise their hands in support of testifiers showing that they are being heard.

    "No one can look at my children and tell them that they don't deserve the dignity of having their parents married. I hope I never have to explain to my children that we are second class citizens," said Jeff Esmond.

    "I have the right to follow the dictates of my heart and my heart tells me I cannot support a lifestyle that goes against my moral values and the nature of God," said one opponent in the testimony.

    The public hearings have lasted for hours with no immediate end in sight. Organizers said each person who signed up by the October 31st deadline will get the platform to speak.

    "This bill is not about equal rights. (Marriage) is a privilege," said opponent Shirley Kinoshita.

    "It would be great to be actually married to gain the rights and responsibilities of marriage in Hawaii," said Gene Corpuz.

    There is a break from hearings tomorrow, but House members will be back Monday with most likely another round of testimonials.

  • Dramatic week for Same Sex Marriage

    It has been a tumoultous week in the same-sex marriage battle.We are into the second day of the House hearings and more than 5,000 people have signed up to speak.

  • Marathon session in the House

    Over five thousand people have signed up to testify on the Marriage Equality Bill. So far House committees have only gotten through about 1,000 of those, so what happens now? KITV4's Brenton Awa has the latest.

  • Senate approves marriage equality bill

    By Catherine Cruz
    Published On: Oct 30 2013 06:12:00 PM HST

    The Hawaii State Senate passed the marriage equality bill, which now goes to the House for a second vote.

    HONOLULU -

    The Senate vote came amidst a morning of applause and the occasional boo or jeer.

    There was head holding and silent prayer, some fist pumping and one man left visibly in disgust.

    Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

    "Madam President, we have 20 ayes, four nos and one excused.  Senate bill one passes 3rd reading.” read the Senate clerk.

    Outside, same-sex marriage supporters were all smiles.

    "Very happy, very happy and I would hope for the same success in the house. My partner and I were married in California in 2008. We think it’s important that marriage equality be extended here in Hawaii," said Big Island  resident Brad Clark

    "This is the beginning of a terrific step forward," said ACLU’s Lois Perrin.

    But it was a sad day for those who believe in traditional marriage.

    "It's God's timing.  I think things can change, but I really feel so shaken up," said Honolulu resident Lynn Hiramoto.

    "I was very sad, very saddened. The people are not for same sex marriage and the reaction was they didn't hear us we have not been heard,” said  Maui Pastor Gretchen Freitas.

    The vote was lauded as a defining moment by some, and shameful to others.

    "We must malama, which means to take care and we must ikei,  which means to recognize, and we must pono. We must do right," said same-sex marriage supporter Sen. Malama Solomon.

    "The curtain comes down on the drama that has been this political theater, because in fact, this was not a special session.  It was totally scripted and totally politicized. The votes were extracted and taken before we ever met," said  same-sex opponent Sen. Sam Slom.

    The bill has been transmitted to the house where leadership said it will be amended because of concerns about religious exemptions.

    "If the Senate agrees with the amendments, it would go up to the governor for his consideration, and if we were to amend disagree, as with other bills, it would be set for conference,” said Sen. Clayton Hee.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos from the special session.

  • Drama erupts on the House floor during the discussion of marriage equality bill

    While House leadership in Hawaii was ready to pass the marriage equality bill to the next committee, the opposition pulled out all the stops, trying to prevent that.

  • Hawaii Senate passes same-sex marriage bill

    Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:02:02 AM HST
    Updated On: Oct 30 2013 03:06:35 PM HST
    HONOLULU -

    The Hawaii Senate voted Wednesday in a 20-4 vote to approve the bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

    Democratic Sen. Clayton Hee said before voting for the bill that the moment is career-defining and lawmakers should embrace it.

    Hee says Hawaii should expand its definition of aloha to truly include everyone regardless of sexual orientation.

    The House plans to refer the bill later Wednesday to a joint committee hearing on Thursday. The hearing is likely to be jammed with public testimony, with the possibility of being extended to a second day.

    The bill's prospects are far less certain in the House, though lawmakers and Gov. Neil Abercrombie have said they believe the measure has enough support to pass.

    House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says it's likely the chamber will amend the bill to change religious exemptions.  The Senate bill currently exempts ministers and other clergy from having to perform gay wedding ceremonies, but not for-profit businesses.

    Get breaking news alerts through email or through our KITV iPhone, Android and iPad apps.

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    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage

    Click here to see photos of the special session.

  • Civil Beat: Drama on the House floor

    Infighting at the capitol, and the pretty big stats on same-sex marriage in Hawaii. Those are some of the stories are partners at Civil Beat are working on.

  • Same-sex marriage drama erupts on House floor

    By Catherine Cruz
    Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:49:54 AM HST
    Updated On: Oct 30 2013 07:40:23 AM HST

    Another emotional day at the state capitol. Fallout over the same sex marriage issue spilled out on the house floor.

    HONOLULU -

    It's only day two of the special session, but Republicans calling for the end to a bi-partisan coalition created the drama-of-the-day.

    'I would like the leadership team to be dissolved. I would like to give back the vice-chairmanships to the majority. You can have them. It has polluted us. It has clouded our vision to provide the ying and yang of the democratic process," said Rep. Bob McDermott.

    McDermott is hoping to replace marriage equality supporter Cynthia Thielen, who sits on the Judiciary committee, with Rep. Richard Fale, who's for traditional marriage.

    Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

    "I believe some of these social conservatives have done more to our party than the Democrats do and Mr. Speaker I refuse to step down," said Thielen.

    McDermott is upset that Democrats got the governor to call a special session without giving a heads up to minority leaders.

    In his frustration, he spoke directly to Speaker Joe Souki. 

    "Didn't come see me. Didn't come see our caucus.We were part of the governing caucus that gave you the gavel, that gave you your leadership. We are insulted. I find it offensive the constituents find it offensive. People who showed up yesterday, the thousands of them find it  offense. Hasn’t been good for you. Hasn’t been good for us," said McDermott.

    McDermott's resolution called for replacing minority leader Aaron Ling Johanson with Rep. Gene Ward and triggered a floor feud that spun out of control.

    "Let's not be truthful. You switched out Rep. Rida Cabinilla who is a no vote on same-sex marriage, with Denny Coffman who is a yes vote on same-sex. Let’s talk the truth," said Ward.

    “I am going to call you out-of-order," said Speaker Souki.

    “Do so, sir,” said Ward.

    “You are out of order,” said Souki.

    "Thank you very much. Do you want  the sergant-of arms to remove me? I want to finish my speech," said Ward.

    In the end, Ward did not get ejected, but the resolution was shot down.

    House majority leader Scott Saiki said Tuesday the House bills calling for lawmakers to take the same-sex issue to voters introduced this week would not be acted on.

    And that the outcome of Tuesday's vote would likely mirror the vote on the Senate equality bill.

    "I think this showing what the level of support and the level of opposition is. Those who are opposed are looking at procedural reasons now, before the issue is before us for a vote," said Saiki.

    The second day of the session is providing a snapshot of painful politics in a divided House.

    PHOTOS: Special session on same-sex marriage