In a follow-up to this post about Hawaii’s battle over same-sex unions, the Assoicated Press reported on committee deadlock over the issue.
The Civil Union bill (HB 444) has passed through the House of Representatives and will now go before the Senate Judiciary Committee for debate and vote. The bill, for all intents and purposes will place Hawaii one step closer to legalizing same sex marriage in Hawaii.
More than 1,400 people signed up to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which took more than 15 hours of testimony before voting at 3 a.m. It was the largest turnout for a Capitol hearing in years.
At least 18 of the 25 senators have said they favor civil unions. The measure already has passed the Hawaii House, but with one vote less than would be needed to override a veto.
Nearly 70 percent of Hawaii voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 granting the state Legislature the power to reserve marriage for couples of one man and one woman. But civil-union proponents told lawmakers that that vote should not trump the civil rights of gays and lesbians.
And the same old arguments surface again in Hawaii– voters shouldn’t be allowed to exercise their constitutional right because gays don’t believe it’s fair.
Impassioned crowds swamped the Hawaii Capitol on Tuesday, with civil-union opponents wearing red shirts outnumbering gay-rights advocates wearing gold stickers with the word “Equality” written in green. The auditorium was packed and many people ended up watching the testimony from televisions set up in the halls.
Religious groups opposed to civil unions argued that they’re the same thing as marriage.
“It is same-sex marriage under a different name,” said the Rev. Marc Alexander, vicar general of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu. “The reason why we benefit and endorse and acknowledge marriage in a special way in our religious structures is because of how it serves the common good in our community.”