Marriage equality will come to Hawaii as early as November 18 if a bill giving couples the right to obtain licenses and get married the same day passes during a special session next week.
The AP reports a Senate draft of the bill will be considered starting on Monday morning. Treating gay marriage as an equal rights issue rather than a marriage issue, the draft changes sections in the state law that have to do with marriage, marriage benefits, and divorce.
2013 has been a landmark year for marriage equality in the United States, which led Hawaii-based advocacy groups to begin pressing the issue more than they had in the past.
After the House and Senate couldn’t muster the two-thirds support needed to call themselves into session, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie called the special session. The legislature has been accepting testimony on the bill which, after Monday, will the proceed to the Judiciary Committee.
Of course, as is the case whenever marriage equality comes close to being a reality, the haters have come out in full force. In addition to television ads, gay marriage opponents have taken to waving signs along highways urging for the issue to be decided in an election, not by lawmakers. On Monday evening, a rally planned by lobbying group Hawaii Family Advocates and the Hawaii Catholic Conference will converge on the Capitol calling for the legislature to reject the bill.
Rejecting arguments that the state’s constitution would need to be amended to pass a gay marriage bill, Hawaii’s attorney general David Louie issued a legal opinion last week assuring supporters that Hawaii lawmakers unquestionably have the authority to consider gay marriage and pass a bill.
Come November 18th, Hawaii may get just a bit more fabulous. We’ll keep you posted on the developments.