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Same-sex couples tie the knot in Hawaii as marriage equality goes into effect

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Hawaii state sealAt midnight early this morning, Hawaii’s new marriage equality law went into effect, and same-sex couples in the state were ready to take advantage of that fact.  The AP reports:

Six couples tied the knot early Monday, shortly after midnight, when a new law allowing same-sex couples to marry took effect.

A Waikiki resort was hosting mass ceremonies for anyone wanting to sign up, while a group of clergy who pushed for the new law planned to host a wedding for an openly gay Unitarian minister at a church near downtown Honolulu.

Hawaii’s marriage laws allow couples to register for a license and be married the same day, a process conducive for tourists only in the state a short time.

Couples can sign up for a license online, then be verified by any license agent throughout the state.

Many involved in the marriage equality movement consider Hawaii the birthplace of the issue, after a court ruling in same-sex couples’ favor led to the U.S. Congress passing the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.  DOMA, of course, was invalidated earlier this year.

The Honolulu Civil Beat had a few sweet details about the historic event:

“I do,” said one partner.

“I do,” said the other.

Cue Elvis and the “Hawaiian Wedding Song”:

Now that we are one
Clouds won’t hide the sun
Blue skies of Hawaii smile
On this, our wedding day.

It was quite the lovely occasion: The Sheraton’s Leahi Club Lounge, with stunning views of Waikiki at night in the rain, was adorned with white flowers and candles. Chaz Hill played piano and sang touching ballads, including John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu performed a stunning oli.

This morning, NPR ran a story will a simple question as its headline: Could Hawaii Become A Same-Sex Wedding Destination?:

“Same-sex couples will be attracted to Hawaii for the same reasons that opposite-sex couples are attracted to Hawaii,” says Sumner La Croix, an economist at the University of Hawaii. “It’s the great weather, it’s the warm water, it’s the beautiful scenery. And it’s also the aloha spirit.”

La Croix estimates that over the next three years, gay marriage will boost tourism in Hawaii by $217 million. Unlike some other states with marriage equality laws, Hawaii already has a booming tourism industry. La Croix believes that gives Hawaii an advantage.

“The machinery of marriage is already in place here. There are hotels that are in the marriage business,” he says. “They’re used to catering to couples who are honeymooning or want to get married or are celebrating a marriage. There are wedding photographers. There are caterers. There’s a large number of firms that are specialized in the marriage business.”

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