Same-sex marriage bill advances to final vote
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.
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.