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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 15, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 7
Still no same-sex marriage in Hawaii
Section One
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Still no same-sex marriage in Hawaii

Bill fails in state that gave equality its first court win

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Hawaii's House Judiciary Committee decided on February 11 not to schedule a hearing on a marriage equality bill, effectively killing the measure for this legislative session.

In spite of a demonstration of 150 pro-equality supporters at the state capitol building, House Judiciary Committee chair Karl Rhoads said he had polled his committee members and determined 'there was not the political will' to pass a marriage bill this year.

February 11 was the deadline to submit the bill for a hearing.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, supports marriage equality and has called on legislators to hold hearings on the measure.

POLL: MOST BACK EQUALITY
A statewide poll released last month showed substantial support in Hawaii for allowing same-sex couples to marry. In the survey, 55% of Hawaiian voters said they support marriage equality, with 39% supporting it 'strongly.' Only 36% were opposed.

Supporters of equality expressed deep disappointment at the legislature's failure to move the bill.

'It's a landslide around the world and in our country and yet, we who started it all 20 years ago are still waiting in line,' said retired Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Steven Levinson. 'It's time to do it now.'

Levinson wrote the 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court opinion stating that while same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry, prohibiting them from marrying amounted to unconstitutional discrimination based on sex.

'It means that we leave our LGBT brothers and sisters in the same position that they are now - [giving] them absolutely no additional protection and treating them like second-class citizens,' ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Lois Perrin said.

'CROSS THE FINISH LINE'
'We have been a leader on rights for the LGBT community, enacting domestic partnerships, then civil unions,' Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a statement.

'Now it is time for us to cross the finish line and grant true equal rights with marriage equality,' Caldwell continued. 'I strongly support the constitutional right of every person to practice their own religious beliefs, and we should never infringe on that.

'No religious organization will be forced to conduct a ceremony that is against their teachings. However, committed LGBT couples also have a right to be treated equally under the law, to have their marriages recognized by the state, and to have equal rights to hospital visitation, work benefits, and tax equity that heterosexual couples enjoy.'

CIVIL UNIONS IN EFFECT
Hawaii passed a civil unions bill in 2011 that took effect in January last year, and some opponents of the marriage bill said the civil unions law should have settled the issue.

'Many of the legislators have said that 'I am OK with civil unions, but not marriage,' said Walter Yoshimitsu, director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference. 'So if we were to look at the votes [for] civil unions it might not translate to the same votes for same-sex marriage.'

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