These words will be proclaimed by same-sex couples tying the knot in Hawaii as of Dec. 2, when the state’s same-sex marriage law goes into effect.
But as Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 1 Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the bill passed its final reading in the state Senate, opponents were promising a legal challenge to the new statute.
Senators debated the bill for two hours Tuesday before voting 19-4 to pass the measure, as supporters and opponents packed the gallery and the Capitol rotunda.
Senators noted that never before in Hawaii’s history had so many residents weighed in on an issue. Some 26,000 pieces of testimony were submitted, thousands of people rallied at the Capitol over the three-week special session and lawmakers heard testimony from more than 1,500 people in person.
Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria, who introduced the bill, called its passage “a moment enshrined in equality and justice.”
Sen. Mike Gabbard disagreed with the majority of his Democratic colleagues and maintained that even with 12 hours of public testimony in the Senate and 56 hours in the House, there wasn’t enough time to address the issues.
A task force established earlier this year to review the impact of gay marriages never met, because the governor called legislators into special session, Gabbard said.
The House passed the bill Monday by a vote of 30-19.
Proponents and opponents disagree on whether the law protects religious liberties, a major criticism of the first draft.
“Working together with our colleagues in the state House we have come to a compromise which provides a balance between religious freedom and equal rights,” Galuteria said.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie called legislators into a special session on October 28, which lasted three weeks, to legalize gay marriage. He signed the bill into law Wednesday.