East Hawaii News

Abercrombie Signs Gay-Marriage Bill Into Law

November 13, 2013, 11:33 AM HST
* Updated November 13, 12:04 PM
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie this morning signed into law the bill establishing same-gender marriages in Hawai`i.

The ceremony held at the Hawai`i Convention Center emceed by Attorney General David Louie began with a musical presentation by Amy Hanaiali`i Gilliam and Willie K.

The performance, the first involving the two in a decade, included a medley combining the songs “Imagine” by John Lennon and “Over the Rainbow” from the film “The Wizard of Oz.”

Referring to the passage of the law as “a new era of aloha,” Louie introduced several speakers beginning with Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee, whose comments were delayed as he appeared to compose himself.

An emotional Hee acknowledged that before approaching the podium he had asked Sen. Brickwood Galuteria – who introduced the historical Senate Bill 1 – if he could spare a handkerchief.

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“He told me to use my tie,” Hee said to laughs from the audience. “So if you see me use my tie you know why.”

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When it came to signing the bill, Abercrombie said he would depart from the usual law-signing custom of using a number of pens to be handed out as mementos.

He said instead he would use just a single koa pen which he intended to give to retired Hawai`i Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson, which was met with loud applause.

Levinson wrote the court’s 1993 ruling that said denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples was contrary to the state’s Constitution, the first such judicial ruling in the nation.

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The new law calls for the state Department of Health to begin issuing the marriage licenses on Dec. 2.

Members of Hawai`i’s congressional delegation were quick to applaud the state’s effort.

“Today we achieved a long-fought victory for civil rights in Hawai‘i,” said US Senator Brian Schatz, whose wife, Linda, testified on his behalf during both the state Senate and House proceedings.

“I congratulate those who have dedicated years, and even decades, to seeing marriage equality become a reality,” Schatz said in a statement issued immediately after the signing.

“This is a historic and celebratory day for many Hawai‘i families, who will now be treated equally under the law, regardless of who they love.”

US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa issued a statement saying said the new law expresses “the aloha and acceptance that have made Hawai`i the place that we love.”

“For supporters of marriage equality, this day has been a long time coming,” Hanabusa said.

“In that time, our community and many individuals within it have challenged personal beliefs and learned important lessons,” she said. “Today, Hawaii proudly joins the growing group of states that show their respect for our LGBT brothers and sisters through legislation.”

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