The Hawaii House of Representatives has moved the state’s marriage equality bill forward to a final vote, albeit with some amendments that will necessitate a second vote in the Senate, which already approved an earlier version of the bill.
Leading up to the vote there were a few surprises: A self-described conservative Christian testified passionately for the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 and voted accordingly, while an out lesbian lawmaker voted against it.
The House Wednesday night voted 30-18 to advance the bill to a final vote, expected to come Friday, the Associated Press reports. It amended the bill to provide broader religious exemptions and delay its effective date from November 18 to December 2.
The bill had already allowed clergy to refuse to perform same-sex weddings, but the amended version allows churches to refuse to provide facilities or services — such as music, photography, or catering — for these ceremonies, according to Hawaii News Now. Secular businesses offering these services, though, are not exempt from the law, even if their owners oppose marriage equality on religious grounds.
The House moved the bill forward after hearing testimony for five days and nearly 60 hours, including 11 hours Wednesday. Rep. Kaniela Ing, who describes himself as a conservative Christian, responded to the antigay testimony with impassioned support for LGBT people.
“So Christians, I ask you, what do you expect our gay brothers and lesbian sisters to do?” Ing said during Tuesday’s proceedings (see video below). “Be alone their entire lives? Have secretive lifestyles? Relationships? And not be in the type of committed monogamous relationships that this bill pertains to? How is that conducive to a moral and fair society? They are the way they are. Shouldn’t we allow them to love whom they love?”
But Rep. Jo Jordan, a lesbian, said Wednesday that the testimony led her to vote against the bill even though it would benefit her personally. “I might vote against something that I personally believe in. I personally believe I should have the right,” Jordan said, according to the AP. “You know how hard it is for me to say no? I have to say no.”
If the House gives final approval Friday, the Senate will vote on the bill Tuesday, and Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he accepts the amendments and will sign it.