|Hawaii House votes on gay marriage courtesy photo|
The House draft includes amendments, modeled after similar language in Connecticut law, significantly broadening exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization. Religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempted from having to furnish goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnizations if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith.
It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith. The measure also grants immunity from administrative, civil and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, goods, or facilities as described.
The issue was discussed in House committee hearings spanning five days and nearly 57 hours of public testimony. There were 5,184 registered testifiers, with over 1,000 people testifying, and nearly 24,400 written testimonies submitted. As far as House members could recall, the public hearing on SB1 was the longest hearing on a single bill in the modern history of the Hawaii House of Representatives. Based on concerns and issues raised during the public hearing the bill was amended to expand the religious exemptions for churches and religious organizations that do not want to solemnize same gender marriages.
The bill is now transmitted to the Hawaii State Senate for their consideration. Upon approval of the changes by the Senate, the bill will be transmitted to the Governor for his signature into law. If the Senate rejects the amendments, the bill will go into conference committee. The Senate is scheduled to convene on Tuesday, November 11, to vote on the amended House bill (SB1 HD1).
More information on the bill is available on the Capitol website here.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie stated:
“I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic vote to move justice and equality forward.
“After more than 50 hours of public testimony from thousands of testifiers on both sides of the issue, evaluating dozens of amendments, and deliberating procedures through hours of floor debates, the House passed this significant bill, which directly creates a balance between marriage equity for same-sex couples and protects our First Amendment freedoms for religious organizations.
“I applaud Speaker Souki, Judiciary Chair Rhoads, Finance Chair Luke, Majority Leader Saiki and the rest of the leadership team for their patience, fairness and hard work in shepherding this bill through the House.
“I am confident that the Senate will address the bill in the same spirit. I look forward to a successful conclusion to this major step in affirming everyone’s civil rights.”