US: Hawaii Governor attempts to push lawmakers towards legalising equal marriage

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The Governor of the US state of Hawaii on Wednesday moved to push lawmakers into beginning the process of legalising equal marriage.

Governor Neil Abercrombie released a draft of a bill which would do just that. If Hawaii legalises same-sex marriage, it would become the 14th US state to do so.

Abercrombie said the legislation was based on a similar bill which was stalled earlier this year in the state Senate. He said it “was drafted in collaboration with legislators, staff and stakeholders.”

He said that he hoped state lawmakers would meet for a special session in order to vote on the measure, as failing to do so would mean a vote could not take place until January.

Despite Democrats controlling large majorities in both the House and Senate, lawmakers have been unable so far to get the two-thirds necessary support to convene a special session. Abercrombie said he would be willing to call the special session if he believed the bill would pass.

As well as the usual criticisms against the bill including complaints from churches that the bill does not have sufficient religious exemptions, its opponents have complained at the cost of convening a special session. An estimated grand total of the five days is $25,800 (£16,600), which the Honolulu Civil Beat noted amounts to 1.9 cents per man woman and child in the state.

Governor Abercrombie said on Wednesday after a rally outside the capitol that he would allow lawmakers to review the bill before he would urge them to convene to debate it.

Polls suggest that Hawaiians are in favour of legalising equal marriage. The state allows civil unions, but those do not automatically qualify couples for federal benefits.