By Derrick DePledge
Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday that it is premature to say whether he might call for a special session of the Legislature on gay marriage. But the governor suggested a decision could come soon.
The governor said his administration is still reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings last week on same-sex marriage to determine the impact on a pending federal court challenge to the state's marriage law.
Both same-sex and heterosexual couples in Hawaii are able to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law. But the marriage law is reserved for heterosexual couples.
The Supreme Court ruled last week that legally married gay couples are entitled to federal benefits.
"If we can get an understanding as to what the direction is and an agreement about what to do, then we'll take up the question of whether we should move before the next legislative session is formally required," Abercrombie said. "Because when you're talking about issues of equality and justice, you don't want to delay them unnecessarily or arbitrarily.
"So the question of whether or not we move sooner rather than later will be answered very shortly."
Some lawmakers and gay rights activists have called for a special session to take up gay marriage rather than wait for the next regular session in January.
Two-thirds' support in the state House and Senate is required for lawmakers to initiate a special session. The governor, however, has the power to call lawmakers back to the state Capitol.