After hearing more than 50 hours of public testimony, the Hawaii House of Representatives approved the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013 by a vote of 30-19 on third reading late Friday night, reports Hawaii News Now.
Because the House added amendments broadening the bill's religious exemptions, the legislation will have to be reconsidered in the Senate, but given that chamber's strong approval of the bill last month, it's expected to again pass that chamber and move to the Governor's desk. The Senate will consider the amended bill on Tuesday, November 12.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, an equality supporters who called the special legislative session specifically to consider the marriage equality act, has pledged to sign the bill. Once he does so, same-sex couples can begin marrying in Hawaii on December 2, according to Hawaii News Now. Hawaii will be the 16th U.S. state — along with the District of Columbia — to enact marriage equality.
"I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic vote to move justice and equality forward," said Gov. Abercrombie in a statement immediately after the vote Friday evening. "After more than 50 hours of public testimony from thousands of testifiers on both sides of the issue, evaluating dozens of amendments, and deliberating procedures through hours of floor debates, the House passed this significant bill, which directly creates a balance between marriage equity for same-sex couples and protects our First Amendment freedoms for religious organizations. I applaud Speaker Souki, Judiciary Chair Rhoads, Finance Chair Luke, Majority Leader Saiki and the rest of the leadership team for their patience, fairness and hard work in shepherding this bill through the House. I am confident that the Senate will address the bill in the same spirit. I look forward to a successful conclusion to this major step in affirming everyone's civil rights."
Hawaii News Now was at the state capitol as the House concluded its third reading, and jubilant supporters heard the news that marriage equality had passed. The crowd, waving rainbow flags, began screaming, crying, hugging, and chanting "Love is Love!" at the marriage equality opponents on the other side of the rotunda, who were notably quiet, some bowing their heads in prayer.
Watch Hawaii News Now's report from the moment the bill passed below.