(Update) Hawaii Special Session for SB1 – Hawaii Marriage Equity Act: House committees approve bill, goes to the full House

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Hawaii Tribune Herald reports Hawaii House committees forward gay marriage bill:

EqualTwo state House committees sent a bill that would legalize gay
marriage to the full chamber Tuesday night, ending a five-day public
hearing that exposed deep divisions in Hawaii on an issue being
considered across the United States.

Members of the House
Judiciary and Finance committees voted for the bill after hearing more
than 55 hours of public testimony, leading to alterations in the
measure.

The committees made three amendments. One strengthens
provisions that exempt clergy and organizations from having to perform
gay marriage ceremonies, modeled after a similar law in Connecticut.
Another deletes language that governed how children of gay couples could
establish Native Hawaiian parentage to qualify for state benefits. A
third moves the date ceremonies can begin to Dec. 2
.

The full
House is expected to consider the bill in a second reading this morning,
with the possibility of fully passing the bill Friday, House
spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said.

The amendments mean the measure will have to be approved again by the state Senate, which passed the original bill last week. [Update: The House will send SB 1 to the Senate for its consideration early next week, following the Veterans Day holiday Monday.]

Gov.
Neil Abercrombie, who called the special session and would be asked to
sign the bill, said in a joint statement with Attorney General David
Louie that the bill and its amendments are sound and should be passed by
the Legislature. The executives said the amendments balance the
concerns raised during the hearings.

“I think it’s probably the longest hearing ever in the history of
Hawaii,” said Rep. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Judiciary Committee,
thanking staffers and members of the public for sticking around for a
hearing that began on Halloween.

"Lawmakers initially planned to vote on the bill in second reading
Tuesday night, but Rhoads said changes to the bill and a desire to let
staff sleep led lawmakers to push the second reading to the next day."

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