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Hawaii Senate Committee Pushes Marriage Bill Forward

Hawaii Senate Committee Pushes Marriage Bill Forward


The Hawaii Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee approved a bill to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

A Hawaii state Senate committee advanced legislation Monday that could establish marriage equality across the state.

Approximately 1,800 people signed up to testify before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, which voted 5-2 to move the bill to the full Senate, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"It's historic in the sense that there's a huge paradigm shift, but that's a shift that, in my opinion, bends the arc of justice toward the right way," said committee chairman Clayton Hee, according to the paper. "It takes us to a new level of equal rights."

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told Al Jazeera that he expects to have signed the bill into law within a week.

Abercrombie said the bill was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Hawaii, however, was where the debate over marriage rights for same-sex couples began two decades ago, when the state Supreme Court ruled that it violated the Hawaii constitution to deny marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. The ruling set off a domino effect of laws passed to prevent same-sex couples from marrying, including a change to Hawaii's constitution allowing the legislature to define marriage -- which it did to the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples, something it appears likely to reverse now.

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