Hawaii Gets One Step Closer to Marriage Equality   

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 9 2013 10:28 AM

Hawaii Gets Closer to Marriage Equality, 20 Years After State Becomes First Front Line

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Activists hold up a large rainbow flag during a marriage eqality rally in Honolulu

Photo by 77krc/Flickr

In a matter of days, Hawaii will become the 15th or 16th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to same sex couples. Its position on the marriage-equality roster depends on how soon the Illinois governor signs that state’s bill into law, reports Reuters. But no one doubts Hawaii will join the list after its House of Representatives voted 30-19 to approve a marriage-equality bill late Friday. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he would sign the bill. The Senate easily passed a marriage-equality measure 20-4 but because the measure was amended in the House, it must be approved again in the Senate, but there really seems to be no doubt about the outcome there.

The victory for marriage-equality advocates in Hawaii is seen as particularly significant because “the contemporary battle over same-sex marriage was born here two decades ago,” as the New York Times notes. It was Hawaii’s Supreme Court that in 1993 shocked the United States, and much of the world, by issuing a ruling that said refusing to allow same-sex couples to marry amounted to illegal discrimination. Two decades later, that ruling hardly seems like that big of a deal, but at the time, the backlash was fierce. It was what led Congress to pass a discriminatory measure of its own, prohibiting the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, and numerous states suddenly felt the need to amend their constitution to expressly forbid the union of two people of the same sex.

On Friday, the Hawaii House mostly debated a number of amendments that would exempt churches and religious organizations from having to be involved in weddings involving same-sex couples, notes the Los Angeles Times.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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