Hawaii Special Session begins on Monday for SB1 – Hawaii Marriage Equity Act

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

EqualHawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has called for a Special Session of the Hawaii Legislature beginning on Monday for SB1 – Hawaii Marriage Equity Act.

State Rep. Richard Lee Fale has posted the following information about the Special Session. October Special Session Update:

My office has received a lot of calls about the special session that
the governor has called, beginning October 28. This communication is
going out to answer questions about how you can be involved in the
scheduled special session. I want to be clear, I do not agree with the
Governor's decision to call a special session. I believe it is a
reckless and forced attempt to push major legislation without ample time
for review and public input. That being said, the constitution allows
the governor to call a special session. Therefore, if you want to have
your voice heard on the same gender marriage issue, you will need to
speak up during this special session.

How to Submit Testimony

If you are interested in submitting testimony on SB1- Hawaii Marriage Equity Act here are some guidelines:

  1. Testimony needs to be submitted BEFORE 10:30AM Sunday, Oct 27.
  2. Testimony can be submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. You will first need to create an account on the www.capitol.hawaii.gov website.
  3. Click here to create an account, so that you can submit testimony.
  4. Click here for hearing notice instructions and links. Testimony may be submitted by email, fax, or on the Internet.

Committees that will hear Senate Bill 1 (SB1)

Senate Bill 1 – SB1 – Hawaii Marriage Equity Act is scheduled to be
heard by the following committees. You can also express your views on
SB1 by contacting the members of the following committees:

  • Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor
    Clayton Hee, Chair
    Click here for the members of this committee.
  • House Judiciary Committee
    Click here for the members of this committee.
  • House Finance Committee
    Click here for the members of this committee.

2013 Special Session Timetable (subject to change)

  • Mon Oct 28 - Senate Judiciary hearing begins at 10:30 AM in the State Capitol Auditorium (basement level).
    Click here to view the hearing notice.
    Click here to track the progress of SB1, including any revisions of the bill.
  • Wed Oct 30 - Final vote for the whole Senate scheduled
  • Thurs Oct 31 - House Judiciary hearing expected to be held (may change)
  • Mon Nov 4 - Final vote by House and Senate

ABC News reports, Hawaii to Become Next Stage in Gay Marriage Debate (excerpt):

Differences between civil unions and full-fledged marriage have been a
key part of the debate in Hawaii. A lawsuit pending in the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals
[Jackson v. Abercrombie] argues that gay couples should be allowed to
marry and shouldn't have to settle for civil unions.

In calling the special session that begins Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie
said passing gay marriage would help resolve the lawsuit and put Hawaii
in line with Supreme Court rulings
, which don't apply to couples in
civil unions.

On Friday, the attorney general of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, filed a
brief in the appeals case and another case from Nevada [Sevcik v. Sandoval] involving
couples who argue the state's ban is not constitutional
. Attorneys
general from 14 other states are listed as co-counsel.

Coakley said in the filing that civil marriage has been strengthened by removing barriers to access.

"Nevada and Hawaii marriage laws deny gay men and lesbians the
fundamental right to marry and codify the second-class status — for its
own sake — of same-sex couples and their families," the filing said.
"Under any standard of constitutional analysis, they cannot survive
review."

Lawmakers and followers of Hawaii's Legislature — which is heavily
Democrat — say they're confident a bill will pass, but not certain.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking lawmakers to discuss three additional
measures when they meet next week for a special session on whether to
legalize gay marriage. Hawaii Gov. wants more on special session agenda :

The governor said Tuesday he's asking the state Legislature to expand
the special session agenda to include an emergency $2.5 million
appropriation for public hospital and clinic services on Kauai.

He also wants lawmakers to consider funding collective bargaining
agreements recently reached with units of the Hawaii Government
Employees Association and United Public Workers.

Expect to see national news reporters covering this Special Session because who doesn't want the choice assignment of hanging out on Waikiki Beach while phoning in your reports? Nice work if you can get it.

UPDATE: Here is the latest from FindLaw on the Ninth Circuit cases known as Sevcik v. Sandoval and Jackson v. Abercrombie, challenging marriage bans in Nevada and Hawaii, respectively. Nev. Same-Sex Marriage Briefs Filed; Hawaii Lawmakers to Meet Monday:

The two formerly consolidated
legal battles for same-sex marriage have now diverged, with one pushing
forward in the Ninth Circuit, as well as possibly on the ballot, while
the other is headed toward a special legislative session showdown.

In Nevada, same sex-marriage advocates submitted their opening briefs
this week in the Ninth Circuit with a "trickle down" equality sort of
argument, while in Hawaii, both sides of the debate are gearing up for
Monday's legislative session.

Nevada: DOMA's Defeat Mandates State Recognition

Late last week, Lambda Legal filed its opening brief in the Ninth Circuit  [case of Sevcik v. Sandoval] for same sex marriage in Nevada. The 127-page brief makes a number of arguments, highlighted by this point:

As the arbiter of which couples may be married in the State,
Nevada thus holds the key to access for the sweeping array of spousal
rights and responsibilities available under federal law, and keeps them
locked away from same-sex couples under the marriage ban. By foreclosing
same-sex couples from marriage, Nevada inflicts virtually the same
collection of federal harms and deprivations on unmarried same-sex
couples as DOMA previously did, since nearly all federal benefits are
unavailable to unmarried couples, regardless of whether they are
registered domestic partners.

The DOMA Section 3 decision basically said that because states
recognize these same-sex marriages, it isn't the federal government's
place to discriminate against certain types of marriages for purposes of
federal benefits, especially when there was no cognizable reason for such a restriction.

Lambda is now arguing that because the federal government is
recognizing these state-recognized marriages, states must do so as well.

Should the legal battle fail, the issue may reach voters in 2016, reports LGBTQ Nation.

Hawaii: If Not Special Session, Then Court

As we reported earlier, the legal battle in Hawaii's consolidated case was delayed for approximately one month in order to accommodate the state's upcoming special legislative session, set to commence Monday.

Should the legislature fail to exercise its power to recognize same
sex marriages, opening briefs are due to the Ninth Circuit [in the case of Jackson v. Abercrombie] by late
November. If they vote in favor of recognition, the case would likely be
dismissed as moot.

Meanwhile, popular support for same-sex marriage in the Aloha State is growing,
with 44 percent in favor, and 44 percent against (with a 3.4 percent
margin of error). In April 2012, the numbers were 51 percent against,
and 37 percent in favor, reports the Honolulu Civil Beat.

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