US: Hawaii House passes same-sex marriage
Hawaii’s House of Representatives passed the same-sex marriage bill on Friday night, setting up a final approval by the state Senate before it can be signed into law.
Lawmakers approved the bill 30-19 in what was considered an “unprecedented” hearing, permitting over 5,000 people to sign up to give testimony.
The draft that was passed gives more protection to religious institutions who refuse to serve same-sex couples.
It is now set to head back to the Senate, which approved an earlier version of the legislation last month, and is expected to reconvene on Tuesday.
If passed in its final stages, Hawaii may either be the 15th or the 16th state to legalise same-sex marriage, depending on whether Illinois signs its bill into law first, and marriages would legally commence from December 2nd this year.
Governor Neil Abercrombie, who will be providing the signature, said: “I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic vote to move justice and equality forward.
“I look forward to a successful conclusion to this major step in affirming everyone’s civil rights.”
President Barack Obama, who was recently named “hero of Russia’s gay rights movement” by The Moscow Times, has also shown his support for the Marriage Equality Act, calling it a matter of “dignity and respect.”
According to NBC, a University of Hawaii professor estimated that same-sex marriages could bring in another $271 million (£169 million) to the state over a three-year period starting in 2014.