US: Hawaii democrats to meet Governor to discuss draft equal marriage legislation

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House Democrats in the US state of Hawaii are set to meet Governor Neil Abercrombie and the attorney general to discuss draft equal marriage legislation for the state.

The meeting comes off the back of Governor Abercrombie releasing an 18 page document that outlined draft legislation that could allow for marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples from October of this year.

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.”

The Governor is in the process of deciding whether to call a special session of the House to consider the legislation.

He said last 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.

Same-sex marriage has received support from businesses across the state with an expectation that if the legislation came into force it would have a positive impact on the tourism industry.

The legislation has been met with opposition from religious groups who argue that a special session on the issue would cost the tax payer money and it would not allow for a proper consultation process to take place over the issue.

If Hawaii were to legalise same-sex marriage it would join the thirteen states that currently allow equal marriage to take place as well as several counties in New Mexico that are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Last month the bishop of Honolulu warned that legalising same-sex marriage in Hawaii could lead to incest and polygamy, at the same time however over a dozen faith leaders signed a resolution urging for the passage of equal marriage legislation. 

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.