Hawaii congressional delegation unites in call for marriage equality

Hawaii delegation.jpg

All four members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation joined in voicing their support Friday for passage of same-sex marriage legislation in the the Aloha State.

In a joint statement released by Hawaii United for Marriage, Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz along with Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard — all of whom are Democrats — urged the state legislature to approve marriage equality legislation and for Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) to sign the bill into law without delay. Abercrombie signed a civil unions bill into law in February 2011.

“We’re on the brink of getting marriage equality in Hawaii and same-sex couples shouldn’t have to wait any longer for this fundamental civil right. Let’s get this done,” stated Hirono.

“Equality goes hand-in-hand with Hawaii’s values and with what the majority of Americans hope to achieve,” added Schatz. “Our country took an important step towards achieving marriage equality, and now it’s time for Hawaii to step up and allow same-sex couples to marry. I urge the Hawaii State Legislature to do what’s right and make marriage equality a reality.”

“It’s time for Hawaii to stand with the growing number of states across the country that offer full marriage equality to all of it’s citizens,” said Hanabusa, “I encourage Governor Abercrombie and our state legislators to prove their determination by swift, decisive action.”

According to Gabbard, “I 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. As long as government is involved in the marriage business, it must treat all Americans as equal.”

In January, same-sex marriage legislation was introduced in the state’s House and Senate, but failed to overcome a procedural obstacle and were never scheduled for hearings. Nevertheless, the bills remain alive through 2014, according to Freedom to Marry, and could be considered during a special session of the legislature.

A January poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research and commissioned by Equality Hawaii Foundation found 55 percent of respondents support same-sex marriage while only 37 percent are opposed. 

Hawaii is one of several states advocates have set their sights on as likely to be the next to recognize same-sex couples’ right to marry. Last month, Freedom to Marry announced an expansive 30-month plan to have a majority of Americans living in marriage-equality states by 2016. Hawaii, along with Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon, are states the organization hopes to achieve marriage equality in by 2014.

[Photos: Sens. Mazie Hirono (left), Brian Schatz, Reps. Colleen Hanabusa, Tulsi Gabbard. Credit: U.S. Congress.]

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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