Decision Soon on Hawaii Gay Marriage Session
HONOLULU - Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Friday that he intends to make a decision soon on whether to call lawmakers into special session to consider legalizing gay marriage.
Abercrombie said after meeting privately with Democratic lawmakers in the House that they gave him all the information he needs - now it’s his job to consider it.
"Everything that can possibly be said has been said, every issue that could possibly be worked on has been," Abercrombie said. "So it’s just a matter now, I think, of taking a look at what the final wording of the bill might be and I’ll make a decision very shortly."
A draft of the bill released by his office last month proposes that Hawaii begin issuing marriage licenses next month. If passed, ceremonies could begin in November.
Support for the bill is tight in the House, and lawmakers discussed different portions of the bill Friday, House Speaker Joseph Souki said after the meeting.
"I believe the governor does want to get this over with," said Souki, a Democrat. "Like most people he’s getting tired of the pressure that he’s getting on both sides."
A crowd of gay marriage supporters applauded Abercrombie as he walked toward the meeting. Then, after Abercrombie emerged and spoke with reporters, a man against gay marriage urged him to stop pushing the bill.
"Marriage is not a right. It’s an institution," 41-year-old Paul Chapman of Honolulu told Abercrombie as the governor walked away. "Don’t do it. Don’t do it."
On Thursday, Republican Rep. Beth Fukumoto said she believes if the bill is considered, it should be considered during regular session.
"Stifling public debate and limiting public hearings is never a good way to pass legislation," said Fukumoto, the House minority floor leader.
Fukumoto said a five-day special session would cost about $25,800.
Rep. Chris Lee, a Democrat representing Kailua and Waimanalo who has been pushing for a gay marriage law to pass immediately, said Abercrombie and Attorney General David Louie on Friday discussed what different portions of the bill would mean for various stakeholders. Lee said the draft hasn’t changed from the version circulated publicly.
Lee said lawmakers got no firm indications of how Abercrombie will proceed.
"I did get the sense that the governor is inclined to act," Lee said.
If Hawaii passes a law, it would join 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage. It already allows same-sex civil unions.