HILO, Hawaii – The gay marriage debate is heating up on the Big Island.
The state is one week away from an October 28th special legislative session, where the topic of same sex marriage will be taken up by Hawaii’s elected officials.
Already, both sides of the issue have started campaigns for support. On Sunday, a group in favor of marriage equality waved signs along Kanoelehua Avenue in Hilo. The upcoming session is a moment that organizer Mika Mulkey has waited for.
It was Governor Neil Abercrombie who called for both houses to convene over the issue.
Since last June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department have ruled that same-sex couples legally married in jurisdictions recognizing their marriages will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. Now, lawmakers feel the time is right to move forward on a bill.
In 2010, the state passed a civil unions bill with great fanfare. Mulkey says that while civil unions was a good start, the law does not go far enough.
Mika says they are ready for what could be a hard week of raising awareness for their cause. There have already been rallies in opposition and more are planned. Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva has asked the catholic church community to mobilize against the legislation.
Mika does not have an immediate interest in the outcome of the vote, but he says he hopes to one day be able to get married and have a family
The group plans to demonstrate all week at this location. On Monday, a group opposed to same sex marriage is scheduled to demonstrate just a few feet away, at the same time as the rally organized by Mika.