US: Hawaii Governor calls for special legislative session to consider same-sex marriage bill

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Governor of the US state of Hawaii has called for a special legislative session to move forward a bill that would legalise same-sex marriage.

Governor Neil Abercrombie released a draft for the bill in August. If Hawaii legalises same-sex marriage, it would become the 14th US state to do so.

The special session is set to begin on October 28 and could last four to five days, he announced Monday.

At a press conference he said: “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 analysed, has been discussed.

“No one has been left out or has been marginalised in the process to this point.”

He added: “We’re trying to keep from imposing one set of views on each other that would end up with conflict and confrontation. We think that this bill achieves that delicate balance.”

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.”

Hawaii is already among a handful of states that allow same-sex civil unions, which same-sex marriage advocates say falls short of the complete benefits of marriage.

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.