Marriage equality clears first legislative hurdle in Hawaii

The state Senate passed the equal marriage bill with an overwhelming majority. It now moves to the House

By Katie McDonough

Published October 31, 2013 1:04PM (EDT)

                                                                                             (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)
(AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)

The Hawaii state Senate voted Wednesday to approve a marriage equality measure, a vote that will be remembered as a "defining moment" in the state's history, said Sen. Clayton Hee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.

The state Senate passed the measure with an overwhelming majority; it now heads to the state House, where its fate is less certain.

As the Associated Press notes, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said the chamber will most likely amend the bill to change religious exemptions. The Senate bill currently contains an exemption for ministers and other clergy, but not for-profit businesses.

"The House committees recognize that there is still a lot of public concern about the scope of the exemptions," Saiki said.

The joint hearing between the House judiciary and finance committees is expected to last through Friday in order to allow all interested parties to provide testimony.

If Hawaii passes the measure, it will become the 15th state (plus Washington, D.C.) to have marriage equality.




Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Gay Marriage Gay Rights Hawaii Lgbt Rights Marriage Equality Marriage Equality Laws