Hawaii Poised To Legalize Gay Marriage

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Governor Abercrombie intends to swiftly approve legislation

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 13, 2013) – Lawmakers in Hawaii have given final legislative approval to a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The measure cleared the Senate on a 19-4 vote, with the chamber's lone Republican joining three Democrats to oppose the bill.

Governor Neil Abercrombie has indicated he will swiftly sign the legislation into law, making Hawaii the 15th US state to legalise marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

Representative Bob McDermott told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat he plans to mount a legal challenge.

"Many of the voters now feel like they have dealt with a used car salesman who has performed a basic switch on them: told them one thing and then when they got to the dealership there was another thing," he said.

"We will be in court within the next 18 days if not sooner.

"My attorney is meeting with the judge this afternoon and the state of Hawaii so it's moving along rather briskly."

Mr McDermott says he fears that if the new law is not challenged, same-sex practices will be taught in schools.

"When this becomes the law of the land... what are they going to learn in sex education class?" he said.

"If you don't present these behaviours in the curriculum, in health class, how can you not do that if it's the law of the land?"

[PIR editor’s note: Governor Abercrombie has since signed into law the bill legalizing homosexual marriage in the state of Hawaii.]

Legal path to marriage equality

President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, hailed passage of the bill in a statement.

"I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality," he said.

"With today's vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognise that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law."

Governor Abercrombie called a special legislative session in October to pass the bill. Before it started Attorney General David Louis said that Hawaii could start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples from November 18.

The state's Supreme Court ruled two decades ago that barring same-sex nuptials was discriminatory in a landmark opinion that propelled the gay rights movement nationwide.

That ruling also sparked a backlash that has until now kept marriage limited to heterosexual couples in Hawaii.

The reversal by Hawaii lawmakers comes at a time of increasing momentum for gay marriage in the courts, at the ballot box and in statehouses across the United States.

Last week lawmakers in Illinois voted to legalise gay marriage, the 15th state assembly to do so, but it is not expected to go into law until next June.

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