August 29, 2013
Hawaii’s governor, Neil Abercrombie, presented state lawmakers with a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, according to the Associated Press. The legislature is in the process of considering a special session to take up marriage equality, though the report suggests Governor Abercrombie didn’t commit to one at this time:
The governor stopped short of saying he would call a special session to pass the bill but said it was a clear possibility.
He spoke at an afternoon rally outside the state Capitol and to reporters afterward. The rally, organized by the Honolulu chapter of MoveOn.org, was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Abercrombie told reporters he would not rush a special session, or call one without lawmakers having a clear idea of what to do.
“I’m simply not going to consider a special session if it becomes something that gets dragged out and a recycling of previous history,” he said. “The bill’s there, we’re going to make ourselves available.”
He said his administration would let lawmakers digest the bill, and then discuss whether to have a special session.
As EqualityOnTrial reported last week, Hawaii legislators met to discuss a possible special session. The state legislature is heavily Democratic, with overwhelming majorities in both houses. Marriage equality is not entirely without opposition, however, but even religious leaders are found on both sides.
Hawaii’s constitution has been amended to leave the issue of marriage up to the legislature instead of banning same-sex marriage outright. That amendment is currently facing a federal court challenge. It has been put on a parallel track with a similar challenge against Nevada’s anti-gay marriage amendment filed by Lambda Legal. Jackson v. Abercrombie, the Hawaii case, and Sevcik v. Sandoval, the Nevada case, are in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals awaiting briefing and argument by a three-judge panel. The state legislature could end the Hawaii legal challenge by passing the bill during a special session, or before the court challenge is resolved.
The governor presented the legislation during a rally by MoveOn.org. According to the report, the legislation would allow marriages to be performed on November 1.