Hawaii United for Marriage congratulates Delaware as it became the eleventh state to honor the freedom to marry when earlier today Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill allowing same-sex couple to obtain civil marriage licenses.
The governor signed the bill less than an hour after it passed the Senate by a 12-9 vote. The law will take effect July 1.
To read more, check out the following Web sites:
- Equality Delaware
- Human Rights Campaign
- Hawaii News Now: Delaware becomes 11th state with gay marriage
- MetroWeekly: Delaware governor signs gay marriage bill into law
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is joining hundreds of Mayors from around this country who support marriage for same-sex couples as part of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition.
In a statement released last week, Mayor Caldwell expressed his support for marriage equality, while also urging Hawaii lawmakers to pass legislation that would extend marriage to all loving families:
“Hawai‘i has a long history of leadership in equal rights. Hawai‘i was the first state to ratify the equal rights amendment for gender equality. We are home to the first Asian American Governor and U.S. Senator, the first Native Hawaiian Governor, U.S. Senator, and Member of Congress, and of course the first African American President of the United States of America.
“We have been a leader on rights for the LGBT community, enacting domestic partnerships then civil unions. Now it is time for us to cross the finish line and grant true equal rights with marriage equality.”
Mayor Caldwell joins a host of other elected officials in the Aloha State who have called on the Legislature to pass marriage equality, including Governor Neil Abercrombie, Senator Mazie Hirono, Senator Brian Schatz, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.
We thank Mayor Caldwell for his support and look forward to working alongside him to ensure secure marriage for all Hawaii families.
This week, the Legislature reached a key legislative deadline in the 2013 session – scheduling a hearing for all bills referred to two committees. It is disconcerting that marriage equality legislation did not clear this procedural hurdle; as a result, although there are several procedural mechanisms by which the Legislature could move the bill this year, the more likely outcome is that marriage equality will be placed on hold for the remainder of 2013. As the bills remain “alive” through 2014, we encourage supportive legislators to take affirmative steps to advance marriage equality now and to set the stage for action.
In Hawaii, respect for ohana is fundamental, and Hawaii United for Marriage is resolute in our mission to win marriage equality in our state. We commit today to expanding the conversation, strengthening our coalition and uniting the people of Hawaii behind the vision that all families – gay or straight – should receive equal treatment under the law. We look forward to continuing our mission to ensure passage of the bill.
We thank President Obama, Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, Governor Abercrombie, Mayor Caldwell, our allies in the Legislature, and the thousands of supporters who took action and spoke out for fairness.
Today is not the end of our work; it is merely a continuation of the struggle that started 20 years ago when Hawaii took its first steps on a long journey toward equal treatment for same-sex couples, sparking a nationwide (and worldwide) push for marriage equality.
Show the Legislature that you aren’t deterred. Join thousands of supporters around the state who are committing right now to being a part of this campaign until marriage equality becomes law in Hawaii.
Governor Neil Abercombie is joining us in calling on the Hawaii Legislature to hold hearings to pass marriage equality and hold hearings on the pending marriage bills this week. In a statement released yesterday, Governor Abercrombie said:
“I have always supported human equality and agree with President Obama and our Congressional Delegation that all of our citizens should be treated equally.
“Hawaii is a state defined by our diversity, compassion and aloha. I encourage our state legislators to hold hearings on the marriage equality bill so that we can further discussions on equal treatment under the law.”
Governor Abercrombie signed Hawaii’s civil union bill into law and has been a long-time supporter of equality for same-sex couples and their families.
A hearing on the marriage bill must be scheduled by Tuesday (although it could happen as late as Thursday, so long as it is scheduled by Tuesday) for the legislation to advance this year, which means we have less than 72 hours to ensure that the marriage bill moves forward this year.
Click here to urge your elected officials and leaders in the House and Senate to schedule a hearing by Tuesday’s deadline and then be sure to join us on Monday at the State Capitol Rotunda for Marriage Equality Lobby Day! RSVP here.
On Thursday, Honolulu Councilmember Stanley Chang introduced a resolution calling on the Hawaii Legislature and Governor Neil Abercrombie to pass a marriage equality bill this year. In a statement released yesterday, Councilmember Chang called on Hawaii’s elected officials to pass legislation that ensures equal protections for all families in the Aloha State:
“I introduced this resolution because I’m proud to stand up for equal rights for same-sex couples in Hawaii. We’re overdue in guaranteeing that the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender communities enjoy the same rights and freedoms as everyon else. I urge our friends at the State Legislature to pass marriage equality this session, and I ask my colleagues at the Honolulu City Council to join me.”
Honolulu’s City Council is expected to take up the resolution this Thursday, February 14th.
Hawaii United for Marriage thanks Councilmember Chang for his leadership in securing the freedom to marry and hope that his colleagues on the City Council join him in supporting marriage equality.
Join Councilmember Chang in calling on the Legislature to pass a marriage bill this year. Click here to contact your state legislators now.
Dear Representatives and Senators:
We ask that you hear – and pass – HB1109 (and/or companion bill SB1369), providing for marriage equality.
Hawaii has always been a leader on issues of equality for all: the Aloha State has been a model for the nation from the rights of workers, to equality for women, to acknowledging aboriginal culture. Hawaii’s rich and longstanding history of striving for equality has always included political leaders who embraced change and demonstrated courage.
In a state defined by its diversity and aloha, it is time to consider – and pass – a marriage equality bill.
Over the past twenty years, Hawaii – and the entire nation – has seen an overwhelming shift in public attitudes towards our gay and lesbian friends and family members. A strong and clear majority of Hawaii voters support marriage equality. Our entire Congressional Delegation supports marriage equality. Our Governor supports marriage equality. And the President of the United States announced his support for marriage equality before being elected to a second term. Younger voters in particular are even stronger in their support for equality – and even if they didn’t vote in 2010 or 2012, more and more of them will vote in 2014 and 2016.
A majority of our elected representatives are already on record as supporting marriage equality. Of the 51 members of the Hawaii House of Representatives, a majority have stated publicly that they would vote for marriage equality. Of the 25 members of the Hawaii Senate, a majority have stated publicly that they would vote for marriage equality. However, the Legislature has yet to schedule a public hearing on this important issue. This delay means the legislation could stall early next week due to procedural deadlines. While there may be strong feelings on all sides of this issue, and there may be some lawmakers who would prefer that this proposal die a quiet death, our State benefits from robust, civil debate on issues of public concern. To delay action on marriage equality would be an abdication of leadership that the voters entrust in our lawmakers
The reasons to pass marriage equality are clear:
- 55% of Hawaii’s voters support marriage equality.
- No member of anyone’s family – gay or straight – should face shame because of who they are and who they love.
- In 1998, the people voted to give the Legislature the power to determine who may marry; the Legislature should embrace that responsibility and choose equality.
- Marriage equality will trigger up to $258 million dollars in additional spending, not to mention much-needed increases to state and county tax revenues. Hotels, restaurants, caterers, photographers, and thousands of other businesses – small and large alike – will benefit. http://www.uhero.hawaii.edu/
Every day that goes by without legislative action on marriage equality is another day that thousands of gay and lesbian residents of Hawaii are denied the very basic freedom to marry the person they love. Now – as we see a major national trend towards marriage equality – we ask that you hear (and pass) these bills. The time is now.
Hawaii United for Marriage
At its core, extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples ensures that loving couples have the tools they need to protect their families. But a study released today by University of Hawaii economics professor Summer La Croix demonstrates another significant benefit to passing marriage equality: boosting our state economy!
In his report released today, La Croix says that “marriage equality is likely to lead to substantial increases in visitor arrivals, visitor spending and state and county general tax revenues.”
He estimates that should Hawaii pass the freedom to marry, ceremonies and honeymoons for both residents and non-residents would generate an additional $46 to $258 million for the Hawaii economy over the 2014-2016 period.
Read more about the report here.
And then be sure to ask your legislators to support a marriage bill during this legislative session. Click here to send them a message now and then CLICK HERE to sign up for Marriage Equality Lobby Day next Monday at the State Capitol in Honolulu.
This piece originally appeared in the Star-Advertiser on Sunday February 3rd.
Hawaii’s Supreme Court in 1993 became the first high court of any state to find the refusal to marry a same-sex couple to be discriminatory. Now, two decades later, it’s time for the state to circle back to that position of equanimity with the legalization of same-sex marriage.
When the decision in Baehr v. Miike was issued, state lawmakers moved quickly to foreclose on the claim by legally defining marriage as a compact only for heterosexual couples, a definition ultimately endorsed in a popular vote to amend the state Constitution. The trend backing a more traditional view of marriage was underscored on the federal level with the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act.
To say that public opinion has shifted dramatically on the issue would be an understatement. There have been votes in other states to allow same-sex couples to marry; the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy constraining the military service of gay men and women was finally overturned.
Throughout society, and especially as the millennial generation starts to take its place in the workforce, attitudes on gay rights have incontrovertibly changed. Even the Boy Scouts of America is looking to lift its longstanding ban on gay members and leaders, a policy change that the Hawaii council is expected to consider in the coming days.
The pollsters have been busy, too, and most of the data documents this shift. Last week, Anzalone Liszt Grove Research released its survey of registered Hawaii voters, commissioned by Equality Hawaii Foundation. Following live telephone interviews with a sample of 500, the results showed that 55 percent support legalizing same-sex marriage, including 39 percent who “strongly” favor it.
This position is reflected most strongly among the younger voters: Among those 35 and under, 64 percent were in favor, and 32 percent were opposed.
The results of any poll can be questioned, this one because it was commissioned by a group backing marriage equality that hired a firm known for its Democratic Party polling.
But that critique is immaterial. The state’s marriage policy should not depend on any polling. This is a question of civil rights, not the outcome of a popular vote.
Hawaii took an important step forward when, two years ago last week, Senate Bill 232 was signed into law, authorizing same-sex civil unions, giving gay and lesbian couples access to state rights and protections equivalent to those of marriage.
While that brought more legal clarity and fairness to these couples and greater security to their families, many make a strong argument why marriage equality remains their goal.
An assessment of the situation would show that, as long as DOMA remains the federal law, same-sex couples won’t have access to federal marriage protections, whether their partnership at the state level is formalized as a marriage or civil union.
Advocates for marriage equality have posted the website Why Marriage Matters (whymarriagematters .org), asserting: “Marriage says ‘We are family’ in a way that no other word does.”
It is a legal status that has a long-established level of respect unequalled by any other convention of society. There really is no reason why that status should be denied to two consenting adults who want to make the commitment.
This legislative session, two bills have been introduced to enable marriage equality in Hawaii. One, House Bill 1005, would put a constitutional amendment before voters that would delete the 1998 amendment that empowered the Legislature to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It also would add language that pointedly affirms marriage as “a legally sanctioned union between two people of the opposite or same sex.”
The highest priority should be on passing Senate Bill 1369, which extends access to marriage to same-sex couples and eases the legal transition for couples in a civil union or reciprocal beneficiary relationship who wish to marry.
Even if the Constitution remains as it is, this measure would clear the way to marriage equality in this state. The bill includes protections for religious organizations that find sanctioning gay marriages in conflict with their beliefs.
The issue of fairness to all, regardless of sexual orientation, made its first appearance in a presidential inaugural address a few weeks ago when President Barack Obama stated that “our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.
“For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” he said.
That basic truth is what Hawaii lawmakers — and the voters, should a constitutional amendment come before them — should keep foremost in mind. For the benefit of island families, the law of the Aloha State should give equal recognition to the unions of all couples who embrace that legal commitment. Discrimination should have no place here.
The Japanese American Citizens League’s endorsement of marriage equality in Hawaii originally appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, February 3rd.
As the nation’s oldest and largest Asian-American civil rights organization, the Japanese American Citizens League is committed to equality and the protection of civil and human rights for all.
The JACL has long supported marriage equality. In 1964, it filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia in which ultimately interracial couples were allowed to marry, effectively striking down the fallacy that love can be legislated.
In 1994, its national council affirmed the position that marriage is a fundamental human right that should be guaranteed to all, making it the first non-gay organization to support marriage equality.
Historically, we reflect on the 1942 Executive Order 9066, which stripped 120,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry of their rights and freedoms. This was done by well-meaning people who decided it was perfectly fine to discriminate because it was just one time and only against a small minority. We must never again make an exception to our right to equal protection under the law. Discrimination against any group of people has no place in our society.
The controversy surrounding efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Hawaii fails to address a basic point: The loving couples who are denied the right to marry are victims of discrimination.
Notably, in 1993, decades before other states addressed the issue of marriage equality, Hawaii’s Supreme Court led the nation in supporting gay rights by striking down a ban on marriage for same-sex couples because it violated the state Constitution prohibiting discrimination.
The ruling was dealt a setback when a constitutional amendment was enacted in 1998 giving the Legislature the authority to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Now 15 years later, same-sex couples in Hawaii continue to be denied the right to marry, although same-sex marriage has been adopted by nine other states and the District of Columbia.
In the wake of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., we look to his words as revisited by President Barack Obama, who said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. … But here is the thing: It does not bend on its own. It bends because each of us in our own ways put our hand on that arc and we bend it in the direction of justice.”
The fact that individuals here are denied the right to marry merely because they are gay fundamentally undermines the premise of equality and ultimately robs them of their dignity as citizens.
Yes, there are strident voices that maintain marriage is a tradition and should be protected (“Legislature would be unwise to take up redefinition of marriage at this time,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Jan. 27). However, our state’s lawmakers have before them measures that will not change how religion defines marriage. The proposed law allowing same-sex couples to join in marriage specifically protects the rights of clergy, churches and religious organizations that do not perform or recognize same-sex marriages.
Hawaii has a chance this legislative session to do what is right and fair, and to put our collective hand on the arc and bend it in the direction of justice for all.
Just two days after Senator Brian Schatz called on the Hawaii State Legislature to pass a marriage bill this year, Representative Tulsi Gabbard released a statement today reiterating her support for marriage equality. Representative Gabbard has already committed to cosponsoring legislation that would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. And now, she’s calling on Hawaii lawmakers to ensure that all families in the Aloha State are treated fairly:
“I strongly disagree with a two-tiered, discriminatory government policy of ‘marriage’ and ‘civil unions.’ Government officials, judges, and bureaucrats should not have the power to declare one relationship ‘morally’ superior to another.
“However, as long as government is involved in the marriage business, it must recognize and treat all Americans as equal. I fully support equal rights, benefits, and privileges for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. Those in same-sex relationships should not be denied by the government the right to marry and enjoy the same benefits, rights, and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples.
“In a step toward marriage equality, I will be an original co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In addition, I encourage Hawai`i state lawmakers to pass legislation that will ensure fair and equal treatment for all of Hawaii’s citizens.”
We thank Representative Gabbard for taking a stand for all Hawaii families and urge the legislature to heed her call to action and extend marriage to all loving couples.