Insert getting lei'd joke here.
Governor Neil Abercrombie has officially called for a special legislative session to push forward a bill to legalize gay marriage in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013, drafted last month, would finally allow same-sex marriages in the state, which currently only grants same-sex civil unions. The bill would ensure that gay couples are given the same access to federal benefits as their opposite-sex counterparts. The reason for a special session? According to Abercrombie, it's mainly because of what the legislation could mean for taxes this coming year.
"The decision to call a special session is based on doing what is right to create equity for all in Hawaii," Abercrombie said. "If full advantage of various tax and other financial issues for citizens is to be achieved, passage before the end of the calendar year is essential."
The governor is calling on the houses of the state legislature — both composed mainly of Democrats, with only one in 25 senators being a Republican — to convene for the session on October 28.
"Every variation on a view with regard to the issue of marriage and equitable treatment for those engaged in marriage has been aired, has been analyzed, has been discussed," Abercrombie said. "No one has been left out or has been marginalized in the process to this point."
If the measure passes, Hawaii would join the District of Columbia as well as 13 other U.S. states legalizing same-sex marriages. And if it does so quickly enough, it could begin conducting wedding ceremonies as soon as November 18.
Meanwhile, gay rights activists in Ohio launched an educational campaign Monday to try and gain support for marriage equality in the state. Why Marriage Matters Ohio, which seeks to explain how same-sex couples are impacted by the state laws, was promoted by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and backed by several rights groups, including the Equality Ohio Education Fund and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
As it stands, 48 percent of Ohioans support same-sex marriage, while 44 percent say they're opposed.
“All Americans should be able to marry the person they love, and they should be able to celebrate that love in Ohio,” Brown said during a speech in Cleveland. “Full rights should not vary by geographical lines. Why Marriage Matters Ohio will bring this issue of equal rights to the forefront.”
In 2004, 62 percent of voters supported Ohio’s ban on gay marriage. The state law has, since then, defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.