House Considers Bill to Put Gay Marriage Question Before Voters

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House Republicans Bob McDermott, Gene Ward and Richard Fale called on Speaker Joe Souki and their fellow reps to hear a bill to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would let voters decide the issue of gay marriage.

“I implore you, sir, please let the people’s voices be heard,” McDermott said on the House floor Monday morning, the first day of a hotly anticipated special session.

The proposed constitutional amendment, being put forward through House Bill 5, is an effort to combat Senate Bill 1, which would legalize gay marriage in Hawaii, the reason Gov. Neil Abercrombie ordered the Legislature back into session.

HB 5 isn’t expected to pass, but it’s up to the committee chairs whether it will get a hearing this week. 

Dozens of people filled the public gallery above the House floor, representing both sides of the gay marriage debate. Some wore blue, short-sleeve collared shirts with the names of various churches. Others wore rainbow-colored lei. 

Souki scolded the crowd at one point for applauding after Ward cautioned that if the Legislature rushed to pass a bill this week, lawmakers would have to meet again to undo it like they had to with the PLDC.

“We have a very serious bill that we’re looking at,” Souki said. “Please don’t react.”

Downstairs at the Capitol, people were lined up to speak on SB 1 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Clayton Hee.

Dozens of people watched the committee meeting progress on TVs that were set up in the corners of the rotunda because the auditorium had reached capacity.

More than 1,800 people have signed up to testify on SB 1, which could mean a very long day at the Capitol.

The House is set to hear SB 1 at 10 a.m., Thursday.

Nathan Eagle

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Above: Members of the public watch the beginning of the special session in House chambers.

Top: Rep. Bob McDermott, top, reviews papers during the special session, Oct. 28, 2013. (Photos by Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat)

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