By Derrick DePledge
Hawaii's congressional delegation is urging Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the state Legislature to act quickly on gay marriage.
The coordinated statement was released Friday by Hawaii United for Marriage, an advocacy group that wants lawmakers to return in special session and pass a gay marriage bill. The push comes after U.S. Supreme Court rulings in June that legally married gay couples have the right to federal benefits.
Hawaii allows gay and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights and benefits of marriage under state law.
Abercrombie and state House and Senate leaders have been publicly circumspect about a special session, although there have been extensive discussions behind the scenes. House and Senate leaders have said they do not have the two-thirds' support required to call themselves back into special session, so the decision rests with Abercrombie, who aides say is waiting for a clear signal from the House about whether there are enough votes for a gay marriage bill. The Senate has the votes for gay marriage.
If there is no special session, lawmakers will consider gay marriage during the next session of the Legislature that starts in January.
From U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz:
Equality goes hand-in-hand with Hawaii’s values and with what the majority of Americans hope to achieve. Our country took an important step towards achieving marriage equality, and now it’s time for Hawaii to step up and allow same-sex couples to marry. I urge the Hawaii State Legislature to do what’s right and make marriage equality a reality.
From U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono:
We’re on the brink of getting marriage equality in Hawaii and same-sex couples shouldn’t have to wait any longer for this fundamental civil right. Let's get this done.
From U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa:
It’s time for Hawaii to stand with the growing number of states across the country that offer full marriage equality to all of it’s citizens. I encourage Governor Abercrombie and our state legislators to prove their determination by swift, decisive action.
From U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:
I disagree with a two-tiered, discriminatory government policy of ‘marriage’ and ‘civil unions.’ Government officials, judges, and bureaucrats should not have the power to declare one relationship ‘morally’ superior to another. As long as government is involved in the marriage business, it must treat all Americans as equal.