Stay tuned: we are putting together a short video highlighting what the Hawaii Island representatives had to say before the vote (all voted ‘aye’ with the exception of Rep. Clift Tsuji). This video will be uploaded to this page later today.
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Supporters of Senate Bill 1 (House Draft 1) erupted into celebration outside the Capitol on Friday, after the Hawaii House of Representatives voted to pass the same sex marriage law by a 30 to 19 margin.
— Mileka Lincoln (@MilekaLincoln) November 9, 2013
The bill has divided the public unlike any other measure in recent memory. On one side, the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) as well as marriage equality advocates, in favor of the proposed law. On the other, social conservatives and certain faith based organizations, who stand opposed. The issue has grown so contentious that the crowd around the Capitol building had to segregated to avoid conflict as lawmakers made their decision inside. The crowd could be heard throughout the House floor session. Opponents of SB1 shouted their special session mantra, “Let the people vote”, for hours.
— Nathan Eagle (@NathanEagle) November 9, 2013
The bill was amended from its original form, as passed by the State Senate. The House says the draft “includes amendments, modeled after similar language in Connecticut law, significantly broadening exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization. Religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempted from having to furnish goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnizations if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith. It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith. The measure also grants immunity from administrative, civil and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, goods, or facilities as described.”
Numerous amendments to the bill were proposed on the floor and shot down by a voice vote. Most of the day was spent debating the changes, which involved additions like a “conscience exemption” clause for individuals and small businesses wishing not to participate in same sex ceremonies.
Eventually the House moved to the final vote. Representatives spent hours explaining their position. From the Capitol TV broadcast, we have selected two floor speeches that summarized the views of those in support and against.
First, Rep. Gene Ward – a Republican serving the 17th district – who had qualms with the entire special session. Ward questioned certain procedures undertaken by House leadership that he says were undemocratic, especially the failure to broadcast the second reading of the bill on Wednesday. He also criticized what he believed to a lack of protection for small business owners and parents concerned about gay curriculum appearing in schools. As he made his points, cheers could be heard outside.
Rep. Gene Ward – final vote on SB1 (11.8.13)
On the other side of the issue, Rep. Nicole Lowen – a Kona Democrat – said she regretted that Hawaii Island and the other neighbor islands could not participate more actively in the Oahu-based hearings, and admitted the testimony was “difficult to sit through” and was saddened by many of the “hurtful and incorrect things” she heard. in her floor speech, Lowen took the time to correct some of the misinformation being spread.
Rep. Nicole lowen – final vote on SB1 (11.8.13)
The Governor responded to the passage of SB1 with an immediate statement issued to media:
The Senate also released a statement from the Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Clayton Hee:
The Hawaii State Senate will convene Tuesday, November 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. to consider the proposed amendments. If the Senate agrees with the House’s draft of the bill, it will be taken up for final reading that same day. If the bill passes final reading, it will be sent to the Governor for his signature to become law. If the Senate disagrees with the House’s changes, the bill will be sent to a conference committee and a resolution will be negotiated between the Senate and the House.