Hawaii is on track to become the seventh U.S. state to legalize marriage equality in 2013, following a state Senate vote on Tuesday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.


The Senate approved the bill by a 19-4 vote, four days after it passed in the state House by a 30-19 margin. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), who has promised to sign it. The bill would take effect on Dec. 2.

"This is nothing more than the expansion of aloha in Hawaii," state Sen. J. Kalani English (D) told the Associated Press.

The AP reported that spectators cheered the bill's passage so loudly that Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (D), who voted against it, had to order them to be quiet. Hawaii now joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriages, fulfilling the objective of a special legislative session called by Abercrombie in response to the June 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

The bill will allow religious organizations and clergy member to refuse to perform or provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples if the churches felt it would violate their religious beliefs.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]