Political Radar


July 15th, 2013

An internal vote count in the state Senate shows that roughly 18 senators would vote for gay marriage, sources say.

Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria confirmed the count, which was conducted after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married gay couples are entitled to federal benefits.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said he is about two-thirds' of the way through his count in the House, where support for gay marriage is not as strong.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is waiting to hear from House and Senate leadership on whether he should call a special session for lawmakers to consider a gay marriage bill. Otherwise, lawmakers would take up the issue when the next session opens in January.

Sources have said they doubt the House and Senate would initiate a special session, which would require two-thirds' support in each chamber, and would instead indicate to the governor that there are enough votes for gay marriage for the governor to call lawmakers back to the Capitol.

Sources say that some of the issues complicating a decision over a special session are the pending federal legal challenge by gay couples to the state's marriage law, complaints filed with the Democratic Party of Hawaii against 11 state House and Senate Democrats who proposed a constitutional amendment on traditional marriage, and Senate President Donna Mercado Kim's history of opposing gay marriage. Kim has been traveling since shortly after the Supreme Court ruling.

Senators may return in special session within the next month to consider state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald's appointment of James Ashford as a district court judge on Oahu.

If the Senate does return on the judicial nomination, gay rights activists will likely use the move as proof that senators are available for a special session this summer on gay marriage and put pressure on the House as well.

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue have privately conceded that a gay marriage vote is unavoidable and is now a matter of timing. Hawaii already allows gay and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights and benefits of marriage under state law.

2 Responses to “Counting”

  1. Kolea:

    Do we have a cost estimate on holding a minimal special session?

    It is clear history is moving in one direction, towards marriage equality. So why wait until May of 2014 to give equal rights to gay and lesbian couples? And knowing the timidity of legislators, if they are going to do it, most will feel safer doing it this year, in special session, than in 2014, an election year where a few of them, in certain districts and in tight races, might be punished by conservative voters

    As soon as the administration and the leadership of the Lege can finalize a good draft bill, I hope the Governor calls a special session and gets this over. The worldwide movement towards complete marriage equality started here, in Hawaii, in 1992 when three couples applied for and were denied marriage licences because they were same sex couples. Here we are, over 20 years later, about to do what we should have done back then. Basta ya! Enough already. Let's make it right and move on to other, pressing problems.

  2. Goober:


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