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Debate Heats Up Over Special Legislative Session to Legalize Gay Marriage

TIME TO VOTE: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the Hawaii Democratic Party and numerous special interest groups want a special session to legalize gay marriage.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Democratic Party and numerous special interest groups are pushing lawmakers to hold a special session to legalize gay marriage.

The governor, a long time proponent of gay marriage, can call lawmakers into session, but first wants to ensure he has the votes.

Abercrombie needs at least 26 votes in the 51-member House and there is division among the 44 House Democrats.

The issue of whether to legalize gay marriage has long been controversial. Proponents believed Hawaii would be the first state to legalize gay marriage more than a decade ago. In 1997, Hawaii passed a reciprocal beneficiaries law, and in 2011, Abercrombie signed a civil union law.

However, many church leaders have fought against legalization. More than 100 church leaders signed a petition this week documenting their opposition to a special session and gay marriage, saying it is a “moral” issue with broad consequences. They believe they will be forced to perform same sex ceremonies on their property or be sued as churches in other states have.

Democrat House lawmakers will meet Wednesday to review a proposal, which at least in one version, would give churches an exemption. The Hawaii Republican Party, and several of its elected members, have gone on record in opposition to a special session to legalize gay marriage.

“Forcing this heated issue through an abbreviated session will only stifle public input which should be the most important part of the legislative process. Governor Abercrombie should be welcoming, not suppressing, the voice of the public on this issue,” the GOP said in a statement. “If Governor Abercrombie wants his bill to be heard, he should wait until the regular session when all others will have the time and opportunity to put forth their own ideas.”

However, Rep. Chris Lee, D-Waimanalo, who is spearheading the effort among House Democrats to get the bill passed, said marriage equality is about following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage in California, fulfilling the nation's promise of freedom and equal rights for all Americans, and living up to Hawaii's values of welcoming all in the spirit of kindness and aloha.

“No American should have to wait for their equal rights and we have a constitutional obligation to end harmful discrimination now,” Lee said.

Kathryn Xian, the executive director for Girl Fest Hawaii, said, prejudice hurts Hawaii’s youth: “Time is of the essence to prevent these harms by recreating our faith-based communities as more accepting and supportive of LGBT youth. This is just one of the many reasons why a special legislative session on Marriage Equality is so important to the wellbeing of our broken community. Not only will this send a clear message that our state is inclusive of all people regardless of their sexual identities, but that Hawaii protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority in matters of equality.”

Catholic Bishop Larry Silva wrote an open letter August 22 to parishioners outlining the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage, encouraging his members to contact their legislators to voice their disapproval. (see the letter here: Bishop Silva letter

“The issue goes far beyond simply the private relationship of this or that couple, and its implications will be far reaching and profound,” Silva wrote. “The language of the proponents is meant to convince us that this is a civil rights issue and that anyone who does not agree is bigoted. Do not be led astray with such language, and do not allow yourself to be bullied by it.”

Short URL: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/?p=423565

4 Comments for “Debate Heats Up Over Special Legislative Session to Legalize Gay Marriage”

  1. AS usual the catholic church opposes equal marriage under civil law.

    What they should be doing is screaming about the horrific str8 divorce rate of over 50% destroying the institution of marriage and the 39% of american children for many reasons growing up in single parent households

    the issue is profound - allowing gay people to marry will convince more and more gay kids they are real people entitled to equal Justice under law, not discrimination in the name of god

    It will do a lot to stop the rampant suicide of gay teens - about 3000 to 4000 every year out of about 8000 per the CDC for all causes, for a small minority

    its actually about protecting life. and separation fo church and state. Here is a list of mostly catholic church horrors from the dark ages when the church in conjunction with catholic kings ran most of Europe A period of zero social and economic progress that only began to end after the church played its absolutist doctrine with the "holy Inquisition of torture and burnings. of "heretics"

    Theyve come a long way realizing that the holocaust was underlay ed by the churches hatred of Jews for a millennial, but parts of that absollutist control everything entality still prevails about gay people

    its none of theirr darn business since it iss civil marriage and they know very well they canno be forced to do any cereemony or even admit to theirr buildings people to whom they object

    The bottom line is just animus of people who dont create more minds for the church to control etc etc

    • What about the organization' Queer men loving boys" Stanley?
      This group features ages from eight to about 18, 19, 20.
      You should scrutinize your side too.
      Avoid whatever you are drinking.

  2. Stanley thinks the LGBT's divorce rate will be lower than straights? Gee, civil unions isn't more than a year old, and there's family court cases already....go look it up Stan.
    Help LGBT kids to be real people?
    The majority of citizens will not stand for "Queer men loving boys" organization who's just waitin to push the marriage equality issue further until they can marry boys.
    BTW, can you show proof that any LGBT organization condemms child molesters of the same sex?
    I WILL NOT AGREE to "marriage equality" until LGBT organizations show proof of helping the courts to catch, convict, & treat child molesters of the same sex.
    LGBT organizations just want freedom w/o the responsibility. And the term gay insinuates hetrosexuals are sad, so I refuse to use this label.

  3. LGBT should be permitted to have their own life. Stop inputting them your norms and ways. They have their own and they have the right to manifest them!

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