Same-sex civil marriages underway in Hawaii

Aloha, Hawaii, and welcome to the club.

Hawaii joined Washington, D.C., and 14 other states in allowing marriage equality – with Illinois’s new law set to take full effect in June 2014 – just after midnight (5 a.m. Eastern) this morning, with same-sex couples wedding in legally recognized ceremonies.  

Between 30 and 40 same-sex couples at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel in Honolulu married just after midnight early this morning, according to Reuters. Hours later, marriage ceremonies were still being performed and there were no protesters in sight.

Lawmakers in Hawaii voted to approve same-sex marriage last month, just days after Illinois lawmakers approved similar legislation. The legislation in Illinois is expected to take effect June 1, 2014.

President Barack Obama lauded Hawaii’s step toward equality.

“With today’s vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” Obama said in a statement. “Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation.”

Economically, the step is expected to be a boost for the Hawaiian economy. A report by the University of Hawaii Economics Research Organization (UHERO) says the state stands to gain $217 million in additional visitor spending.

Celebrities have taken to Twitter to show their support for marriage equality in Hawaii. Fran Drescher tweeted “#LoveIsLove” support after the legislation passed last month. In July, Roseanne Barr told Metro Weekly she wants “to perform and cater [gay marriages].” 

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