Hawaii may have been the last state to join the Big 50, but it looks like it’ll be one of the first to legalize gay marriage.
Thirteen states currently allow same-sex couples to marry and enjoy the same rights and privileges long granted exclusively to heterosexual couples. Hawaii is quickly on its way to becoming the fourteenth state to recognize gay marriages, with Gov. Neil Abercrombie urging lawmakers on Wednesday to draft a bill that would do just that.
“We are doing our due diligence to remain open, transparent and accessible on this important issue of equality,” he said in a statement. “Over the coming days, I along with the Lt. Governor, Attorney General and staff will be available to legislative caucuses. Next week, it is my hope to meet with House and Senate leadership to discuss the possibility of a special session.”
New legislation, based on a bill that stalled in the state Senate earlier this year, “was drafted in collaboration with legislators, staff and stakeholders,” Abercrombie said.
Along with a special session to vote the measure through, Abercrombie said that he would allow leaders in the state legislature review the bill before insisting they convene again and debate it.
Democrats command majorities in both the state House and Senate, but have been unable to pass gay marriage reform thus far without the required two-thirds support for a special session. Abercrombie said that he’d be willing to call a special session if he thinks the bill would be passed.
The push against legalization of gay marriage in Hawaii has died down as well. Religious groups criticized the initiative over lack of sufficient exemptions and protections for clergy and churches, problems which were reportedly ameliorated in the new draft.
Another criticism of the special session plan is its cost to taxpayers. However, Civil Beat noted that legal fees incurred by the state of Hawaii would outweigh the cost of one special session, if gay couples start taking the fight for marriage equality to the courts.