Senate Advances Marriage Equality Bill

Honolulu- The Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii.

“The Senate’s passage of this bill marks an historic step towards equality, fairness, and justice,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “I look forward to working with our colleagues in the House as this measure moves forward.”

Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.

“This measure represents the Senate’s best effort to strike a balance between religious freedom and equal rights,” said Senator Hee. “Language has been included that preserves the sincerely held religious beliefs of religious organizations.”

Incorporating public input, the Senate’s measure takes into account the concerns expressed by both the religious community and same-sex advocates. SB 1 recognizes freedom of religion by:

  • Exempting a religious organization from liability for refusing to make its facilities or grounds available for solemnization of any marriage celebration if the religious organization does not make its facilities or grounds available to the public for solemnization of any marriage celebration for a profit; and
  • Specifying examples of the types of religious organization activities that do not constitute “for a profit.”

The measure has been transmitted to the House for consideration.

To review the bill, receive more information about special session, and keep updated about the bill’s status, please go to: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsession.aspx?year=2013b.