Hawaii governor calls special session to legalize gay marriage; ‘Glee’ star brings Hollywood to the debate

Gov. Neil Abercrombie called lawmakers into special session October 28 to legalize gay marriage
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TIME TO VOTE: Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the Hawaii Democratic Party and numerous special interest groups want a special session to legalize gay marriage but the Honolulu GOP is opposed

HONOLULU — Gov. Neil Abercrombie plans to force state lawmakers’ hands, pledging to call them into special session on Oct. 28 to vote on whether to legalize gay marriage.

Hawaii already has a reciprocal beneficiaries law and a civil unions law, but Abercrombie wants a special session to pass a gay marriage bill now.


“The decision to call a special session is based on doing what is right to create equity for all in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said in a statement Monday. “The merits of holding a special session include the opportunity for the Legislature to focus squarely on this important issue, without having to divert attention to the hundreds of other bills introduced during a regular session.”

After learning two weeks ago he didn’t have the votes in the House from his own Democratic party members, Abercrombie released a draft of his proposed gay marriage bill to show his office is “doing its due diligence” and “being transparent.”

Abercrombie also continued to meet with House Democrats — 44 of the 51 House members — behind closed doors, and now believes he has the votes he needs.

Hawaii GOP Chair David Chang said his party is opposed to a special session.

“Although we respect the rule of law, this issue deeply divides our state and should be considered during the regular legislative session. Rather than welcoming an open dialogue, Governor Abercrombie has once again resorted to strong-arm tactics to pressure members of his own party just to advance his polarizing agenda,” Chang said.

Abercrombie said he wants gay couples to be able to take full advantage of various tax and other financial issues before the end of the year.

David Chang candidate for House 28
GOP CHAIR DAVID CHANG: Abercrombie is politicizing the issue when other needs should take more precedence.

He also pointed out that since June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, theIRS and Treasury Department have ruled that same-sex couples legally married in recognizing jurisdictions will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, and additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs will allow gay married couples to be eligible for veterans benefits.

Chang countered that Hawaii’s high cost of living, underfunded state pension accounts and lack of funding for school facilities and transportation are important issues in Hawaii, and “the governor has never rushed to fix those issues in a special session.”

“Ultimately, the governor is using this issue to ensure his win in the 2014 Democrat primary election and ignoring the many people of Hawaii who feel that a special session will limit public input and lack transparency,” Chang said.

The special session could last anywhere from three to 10 days.

“In my opinion, this is a waste of time and money for an issue that requires no urgency or special treatment,” said Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom.

During the past 12 years, Slom said the Legislature met in special session for purposes other than judicial confirmations twice: once for rebuilding the economy after 9/11 and once on whether the Hawaii Superferry should get an environmental exemption to continue to operate.

Sen. Will Espero was opposed to gay marriage but now supports it

“This is about politicians looking for votes in the 2014 primary election, but in the process putting their thumb in the eyes of the voters who support them,” said Slom, the only Republican in the Senate.

Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa, a candidate for Congress in 2014, was opposed to gay marriage, but recently changed his views and will now change his vote.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark rulings have changed the direction and tone of the SSM debate. Even Pope Francis has provided comforting words on this matter,” Espero said. “I have been watching the national and international progress on SSM, and discussing this issue with many individuals. I have concluded that SSM is about equality and fairness for all, and it is the right thing to do. I feel much of the fear of opponents is unfounded, and this is a landmark policy decision which history will remember. Separation of church and state is important, and I support religious exemptions for faith based organizations.”

Rep. Chris Lee, D-Waimanalo, who has spearheaded the effort among House Democrats to get the bill passed, said marriage equality is about fulfilling the nation’s promise of freedom and equal rights for allAmericans and living up to Hawaii’s values of welcoming all in the spirit of kindness and aloha.

HOLLYWOOD HELP: Proponents of gay marriage have recruited “Glee” star Matthew Morrison to support their efforts.

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

The Hawaii Democratic Party,  American Civil Liberties Union, Equity Hawaii Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and other special interest groups have urged lawmakers to support gay marriage.

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 churches have fought against legalization.

More than 100 church leaders signed a petition expressing 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.

Proponents of gay marriage are looking to Hollywood to boost attention for their cause and raise money for lobbying efforts.

They will hold a 2013 Marriage Equity Gala in Honolulu on September 21, featuring “Glee” television star Mathew Morrison as the main celebrity attraction.





  1. A couple of fact checks. The organization hosting the event on Sept. 21 is Equality Hawaii Foundation, not Equity Hawaii. Second, Mr. Morrison was scheduled for this event months before the special session was called. His participation in this event is not to lobby, but to help the Foundation raise funds for its educational projects. Proceeds from this event go directly to Equality Hawaii Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3), which does not and cannot use any of its resources for lobbying.

  2. Thanks Donald for the info. Also Kapiolani Community College, Kauai Community College & Hawaii State Dept. of Human Services & Health are also donors per the website; https://www.equalityhawaii.org/c3donors
    THAT's our tax dollars already supporting this LGBT education orgaization.
    Add the $25,000+ to hold this special session, you wonder how much movement is costing us.
    In Hawaii's state sheriff’s books theft in the first degree, which applies whenever more than $20,000 is at stake.
    And the regular session starts in January..
    Don't believe? Then go to "Medicaid theft investigation leads to casket company raid, arrest, release" on KHON2's "Always investigating" It's stated there @ https://www.khon2.com/2013/06/21/medicaid-theft-in
    26k seems small for you?

  3. As part of a gay couple that is legally married in California, let me just say that we've boycotted Hawaii for the past five years (thanks in part because of your homophobic ex-governor Linda Lingle); and we have no intention of spending our hard earned money at a vacation destination that doesn't treat its gay citizens with equality. Now multiply our stance by millions of other gay couples across the country, and figure out how much money Hawaii is losing every year by not supporting marriage equality.

    I'm sorry (some) churches don't want gay citizens to use the word "marriage" to describe their relationships. The funny thing is, they don't own the *word* or concept of marriage; and same-sex couples won't be getting married in their churches anyway — that's what city hall is for. In other words, secular civil marriage isn't in the purview of the church; and the church doesn't have the right to force their ideology on the rest of society.

    • In the same way you don't have the right to force your ideology to the rest of society as well who doesn't accede to your agenda. So what if you don't spend your money in Hawaii? I have lived long enough in this blessed state and as Hawaiians, we are not afraid nor should be intimidated by your lame threats. Majority of Hawaiians believe in moral laws that will govern our beloved State and we'll remain committed to it.

      • Incredibly, just two weeks and a couple of days after Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, the logic of intolerance dogma is promoted. With only the change of a few identifiers, the meaning is consistent: "I don't like you if you are not like me, and I will use the power of the state to keep you in your place." We kama'aina, both born and raised here and immigrants (foreign born and from the mainland) who have accepted Hawaii ways, have built an accepting, multi-cultural society, albeit a protective one – we don't like to be pushed around by new arrivals demanding our subservience and to change to their "better" ways.

        Historically, we have seen bigotry first hand. East Coast missionary families who came with the bible and interestingly ended up with 90+% of Hawaii's privately held land (their families still own most of this land today) and total political power (with US military and legislative support); moral laws prohibiting hula, dress, language, etc. by the aforementioned that nearly caused the total destruction of the Hawaiian culture; moral laws where plantation workers were forced to spend their wages in company owned stores; moral judgement where an east coast socialite's one hour sentence spent in the governor's office, mandated by the Washington appointed governor, for the kidnapping/torture/murder of a "dark skinned" local man in the Massie case; moral laws where many Japanese-Americans removed from their homes at gunpoint were either imprisoned in concentration camps or simply left in the street; moral understandings where 100% of executive positions of major Hawaii corporations held by only haoles (most from the mainland) until only recently; exclusion of "locals" from whites-only establishments; and the list goes on.

        With the change of political power in the 60s, we kama'aina finally began seeing justice and true democracy. No, the missionary families were not thrown out. They retained the land they somehow obtained and their economic hegemony, but less so, and were marginalized politically. The moral laws colonial days were finally over. Then there was a resurgence of the Hawaiian culture in the 70s that is still going strong today. Americans "officially" apologized to their fellow Americans who happen to be of Japanese ancestry for incarcerating them simply because of the color of their skin. And we now see kama'aina business executives leading some of Hawaii's major corporations. None of this would have been possible without the change in political power and the questioning of moral laws enforced by the all powerful state at the time (reminder: the state can arrest you at gunpoint, jail you behind bars for any length of time it want, deny you any right it sees fit to deny – marriage equality comes to mind here).

        We have had haole male and female governors and those of Japanese, Hawaiian, and Filipino ancestry and thus now have many kama'aina judges in the Hawaii judiciary. US senators and representatives of Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and European ancestry have become a given. And of course, our state legislative bodies are extremely multi-cultural. And this is what I believe makes our state great, one of the greatest in the United States of America. We constantly evolve, striving to achieve a high moral code where acceptance of all who do not threaten us, our freedom, financial health, ohana and aloha, is paramount.

        Governor Abercombie, despite being born in the mainland has lived here since 1959 and has proven to be a kama'aina by his deeds – in colonial parlance, he "went local" a long time ago. So it is not surprising that he is pushing to include homosexuals in Hawaii's mainstream. Doing such will simply be in keeping with Hawaii's great tradition of ohana.

      • You've got the missionaries wrong. Of about 100 who came here from New England, only two, Castle and Alexander, became big landowners, the rest all did their thing for literacy, yes, morals, and the propagation of their Christian faith. Hawaii became the most literate nation on earth, and, through the able efforts of the missionaries and their descendants, was kept free of colonial conquest, unlike most of the rest of the Pacific islands, for most of the 19th Century. Of the top landowners today, only two are descendants of missionaries, the other 18 are all charitable alii trusts (Pauahi Bishop and Liliuokalani Children's) or landed corporate dynasties founded by sea captains or sailors (Parker Ranch, Campbell Estate) and others. The Hawaiian ali'i overthrew their own religion before the missionaries came, and fostered the missionaries' religion and morals quite willingly. The ali'i worked the people for their own interests as unpaid corvee labor much of the time, so many non-ali'i left the islands for the liberty of sailing ships or went to work on plantations or at trades in the city. The unfortunate natural calamity of epidemics reduced the Hawaii population almost to the vanishing point. Bigotry? In territorial days Hawaiians were prominent in the legislature, in sports, in society, and music, as well as favored in land ownership through Prince Kuhio's success in establishing the Home Lands program. It was not 'moral laws' that led the Hawaiians to abandon their culture, in what was mostly a voluntary manner, but economic changes, the transformation of a stone age society into one of steam, steel, and democracy. Free labor, not serfdom. Capitalist industrial and agricultural development, and, yes, the morals that go along with it, like liberty and private property, rather than agricultural serfdom with tenure at the will of chiefs succeeding each other by warfare. As for the 'bigoted' removal of selected Japanese from their homes during the war– Hawaii's leaders nearly entirely blunted the national internment policy limiting it to just hundreds, not tens of thousands, and for selected leaders only, as a national defense measure. The imperial Japanese enemy was decidedly 'bigoted' in it's approach to other colored people than themselves, as well. Hindsight is 20-20 but at the time Hawaii treated it's residents fairly well. As for executive positions in major Hawaii corporations held by haoles until the '60's, there's some truth in that and call it 'bigotry' if you like, but that sort of practice was worldwide and accepted in most cultures for hundreds of years. I'm sure certain things we do as a matter of course will be looked at in the future as wrong, yet we swim in the milieu we're in.

        Accepting everyone for who they are is our specialty, and we're all proud of it. But calling an additional right no one ever had before an "equal right" does not make it equal — the biological regeneration of humanity by means of two sexes is a natural fact, and marriage is an adaptation of society to that fact. The additional right to 'marry' someone of the same gender doubles the field of possible mates, yet to no biological effect for the future of humanity. Calling the relation equal to marriage can be done as a legal fiction but does not make it equal in fact. Nor has the habitual preference for fruitless venereal erotic friendships ever been shown to be an unequivocally genetic, inherited trait. It does not rise to the level of a 'civil right' as equal treatment of the races does for two reasons: the large element of choice and habit in its expression, and the non-manifest nature of such preferences in normal public interactions. It should rightly remain a matter of private consensual relations, and, in Hawaii, has already achieved a sufficient civil equality to put the issue to rest. And with the inherently fruitless biological outcome of the relations.between such friends, there is no compelling necessity to pronounce upon such the entire panoply of protections afforded to marriage. The sheer natural inequality between this newly honorable relation and that of the biologically productive marriage relation surely has something to do with the vehemence, fervor, and, as we will expect in response to these reasonings, invective, associated with the rhetoric of its proponents. When you are demanding to make something so that just isn't so, hyperbole and the emphatic will be the natural rhetorical means.

      • Despite the population problems of the world (which are, to a surprising degree, already being mitigated by less-than-replacement-level propagation), the fact is, without man-woman relations the human race will die out. Men and women are so very different in their physical, endocrine, and social natures that their persistent union is a matter of great difficulty for both, the so-called 'battle of the sexes'…..yet it is to this field of battle that we are called if the miracle of natality is to be fostered and the human world is to be renewed. Those who, by habit or preference or, perhaps, by birth, who are not so inclined and prefer the safer erotic harmony of the same sex with the same sex, are in effect deserters from the battle to engender and foster a future generation and so do not deserve the full honors of marriage. Yes, for tolerance and for our altogether-in-one-ohana feeling, the wayward, gay or sad, proclivities for fruitless eroticism are part of our social life, and deserve appropriate honor and respect. Marriage, though, is not the same as such unions and, make it as legal as you will by sheer persistent rhetorical agitation, it will never be, in fact, the same. Let us not go mad as a society over the integration of these proclivities into our social and economic relations. Leave marriage alone and fix the miscellaneous tax/economic/inheritance/guardianship & visitation problems of same sex friends in some other way. That is my opinion.

      • @ Jobo

        David said he wasn't getting married in your church.

        No one is "forcing their ideology" on anyone else by going to city hall and getting married.

        You need to grow up, start talking and acting like an adult. Stop whining about what other people do.

      • Sorry, native Hawaiian. Moral laws can cover your personal conduct but civil and state laws are what govern Hawaii. If you don;t approve of marriage equality, go to a church that also doesn't condone same-sex marriage. Nobody's forcing you to do anything but every citizen in Hawaii deserves equal rights under the laws, even gay people! Practice your brand of hate in the privacy of your church and your home.

      • Lawrence v. Texas. US. v. Windsor. Loving v. Virginia. Google each of these. Until you establish the Hawaiian Kingdom again, you are beholden to the rulings and laws of the government of the United States Of America. BEHOLDEN. Do you get it?

    • Seen anyone asking for you to visit?
      Locals don't want your money.
      Go somewhere else to"say that we've boycotted Hawaii for the past five years (thanks in part because of your homophobic ex-governor Linda Lingle); and we have no intention of spending our hard earned money at a vacation destination that doesn't treat its gay citizens with equality…"

      • Try doing without tourist money! I remember when no one was traveling on account of 9/11. Hawaii's economhy was dying with restaurants and hotels closing all over.

      • Hello! All of USA sacrificed after that despicable day, & how unpatriotic of you to use 9/11 as example.

        And we are doig well now, with civil unions in effect…..but you don't read the papers or watch the news, too busy hanging w/the Men loving young boys club?

  4. How could this be equality when the people of Hawaii already spoke against it in the election and in so many fora? Why should Gov. Abercrombie deny what the people voted for? Is he representing the people's interest? As to Sen. Espero, what a discouragement you are! Why are you flip flopping on your stand just to go with the flow even if you know this is totally wrong both in the eyes of God and humanity? I think the residents of Ewa Beach should not vote for you the next time.

    • In 1998 voters in Hawaii reserved to the LEGISLATURE the power to define and regulate marriage. That is what you voted for – live with it. The LEGISLATURE is doing what you asked.

    • Because, contrary to what many people assume, the United States Constitution places limits on democracy. It's actually more the Bill of Rights that make us a free country, not democracy itself. The reason why the Bill of Rights was created was because our country's founders knew that there would be times when the majority of the population (or at least of a state's population) would not want to respect a person's or people group's rights. For instance, banning segregation and other forms of racial discrimination was hugely unpopular in the South, but I think that the vast majority nowadays are glad that civil rights took priority. More and more people are now realizing, and the majority opinion in the DOMA ruling confirms that this is also a civil rights issue. So no, this isn't something that people should get to vote on.

    • Amazing how closed door meetings can bring out legislatures dealing & conspiring.
      Yet, a representative posted on his blog what Abercrombie's agenda is;
      "I asked him,
      "Have you fully evaluated the untended consequences and costs of this
      legislation? For example, Dick and Jane books with a mom and dad will have to either be pulled from the schools or show homosexual couples, thereby inculcating our youth that this is a healthy, wholesome lifestyle with the moral equivalent of Same Sex marriage. I guaranteed him that someone will file a lawsuit demanding the above. "

      The Governor punted and said
      “that was an issue for the Board of Education….besides…if we wanted reality; the books should show the majority of children with single moms.”
      If want to clarify this, please call;
      Gov. Abercrombie 586-0034
      Lt. Gov. Shane 586-0255,

  5. I know Will…used to be "Willie", Willie is a weasel. He would change his mind or say anything to get a vote and support the most liberal of causes. Willie is hoping to ride the coat tails of Daddy Abercrombie. I find it irritating the way Dems always bring up "separation of church and state", like it is in the constitution..IT IS NOT! So he supports "religious exemption." Exemption from what?! Freaking Willie! It is often referred to as the Establishment Clause, it simply prevents the gov from forcing a state backed religion (the primary reason the founders fled England). Willie can't think for himself, what a weasel. Willie, glad you are playing your part in the destruction of morality…hope you get your votes..weasel.

    • " it simply prevents the gov from forcing a state backed religion"

      That's right. Get married in your church. Stay out of city hall, the health department, the marriage business.

    • Read the Constitution. Separation of Church and State surely is there and read the writings of Jefferson, who clearly wanted no part of religion in government.

      • No David…it is not. I highly suggest that you read the constitution. The INTENT is that the government will allow you freedom of religion and not force you into a government backed religion. In the future, if I were you, I would read something before I spout off and tell some one else to read it …LOL You really should pull the foot from your mouth now.

      • David, the first Amendment….."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

        In Jefferson's writings of the early 1800s he did express a desire for a "Wall" of separation between church and state. However, Jefferson's desires are NOT THE CONSTITUTION simply because it fits what you lefties want.

  6. "More than 100 church leaders signed a petition expressing 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."

    No church in any other state in America has been sued, or lost a suit for refusing to marry a same-sex couple in a church, on church property. No church anywhere in America.

    The "religious exemptions" in the bill are very well defined and protective of any church refusing to marry any couple, in the church, on church property for any reason.

    What are the "broad consequences" church leaders fear? Loss of some wedding business. It's their choice, who they marry.

  7. government can't define our rights as individuals. the government has no authority to redefine marriage.if 6000 plus years of human history means anything to any of us, then there is no denying the fact that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. it's not the government's job to say who gets married.the only job the gov't. should have is to passively(like a bureaucracy should) record when the marriage happens.not only gay marriages.why do individuals need the state's permission to get married? it's none of the state's business! marriage don't need no protection, regulation, or monitoring by the state.

  8. I am confused, a constitutional amendment was passed in the late 90's establishing the one man one woman definition of marriage, shouldn't another constitutional amendment be needed to remove that??

    • Confused, eh? Ever heard of the United States Of America? There is this little matter of the US Constitution overriding State law. Do you get it? With the recent US Supreme Court Case of US v. Windsor, marriage equality is a Federally recognized right across state borders and jurisdictions. So, your little Hawaii Constitutional Amendment "Yote YES!" 1997 nonsense is shit out of luck, my friend! ALOHA from America!

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