The Hawaiian state legislature is slated to hold a special session this week discussing whether to make same sex marriage legal in the state again. According to Reuters, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) has called for the lawmakers to meet on Monday to begin the session.
“This is a question of equity,” the governor told Reuters.
Hawaii briefly led the country in marriage equality when the state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that it was inherently unconstitutional to deny marriage rights to an entire segment of society. Rather than lead to a formal law recognizing same sex marriages, however, the ruling set conservatives squalling and by 1998, the state had passed an anti-same sex marriage ballot initiative.
That may be set to change now. Same sex civil unions are already legal in Hawaii, as per a bill signed into law by Abercombie in 2011.
Dr. Allen Wang, 59, told the Associate Press, “It’s unfair that our amazing relationship — which we’ve been together over 33 years — our amazing relationship cannot be acknowledged.”
Wang and his partner, biologist Tom Humphreys, were married in California, but hope to be married in their home state soon. Humphreys was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer earlier this year and hopes to end his life legally married to his husband.
Reuters quoted Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBT rights group, as saying, “To win now through the political process in Hawaii would show just how far public opinion in our nation has evolved, and how quickly. It would demonstrate that…allowing same-sex couples the same right to marry that different-sex couples cherish only provides greater joy and security to more families, and harms no one.”
Monday’s hearings are expected to draw heavy crowds of demonstrators both for and against same sex marriage. If Hawaii makes the practice legal, it would be the 15th U.S. state to do so.
[image of same sex couple being married on a beach via Shutterstock.com]