Governor Calls Legislature Back for Special Session
by State Senator Sam Slom, September 19, 2013
Governor Neil Abercombie issued a proclamation on Monday, September 9 to call the Hawaii State Legislature back into session in order to pass a bill that would make same sex marriage legal in the State of Hawaii. The start day for the special session will be on Monday, October 28 at 10:00 a.m.
The special session could be as short as 5 days or could last longer than a week. The Governor has posted a proposed bill called “The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013”. The 17 page draft document takes into account the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to allow same sex couples to get full federal marriage benefits as opposite sex couples.
There are exemptions incorporated into the bill draft regarding refusal to perform a marriage, and use of religious facilities among other items. Some of the points in the draft are constitutionally challenged in so far as Congress not making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
The bill draft is available as a PDF download at the following URL: http://governor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Marriage_Equity_Bill_AG_9_9_13.pdf
The special session webpage is also online: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession.aspx?year=2013b
My office continues to be inundated with emails, faxes, letters and phone calls coming in from both sides of the issue.
A large rally at the State Capitol in support of traditional marriage is in the planning stage for October 28.
I am on record opposing the convening of a special session for same sex marriage since the state faces more important issues such as fixing the economy, the high cost of living, excessive taxation and streamlining the government. There are 4 more months until the start of the 2014 session.
Since Hawaii approved its civil union law, the total amount of civil unions enacted since the law took effect on Jan. 1, 2012 is 730. Compare that to 23,723 traditional marriages performed in Hawaii the same year. For Jan. to May 2013 — 8,790 marriages; 186 civil unions. Statistics are from the State of Hawaii Dept. of Health website: http://www.health.hawaii.gov/