Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing gay marriage, making Hawaii the 15th state to do so. With his signature, the Governor said, “In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality. Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us.” Senators voted in favor of the bill by a margin of 19-4 with 2 lawmakers excused. Hawaii was at the forefront of the same-sex marriage debate when, in 1990, two women applied for a marriage license. That led to a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision, which agreed that their rights to equal protection under the law were in fact violated. In response to that decision, Congress passed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which was overturned in June of this year..
Beginning on December 2, gay couples living in the state as well as tourists visiting the state, will be allowed to marry. However, those marriages will not be recognized in states where gay marriage is still illegal. President Obama praised the passage of the bill saying, “With today’s vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law.” The President continued, “I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder.” The next and 16th state to legalize gay marriage will be Illinois, whose legislature has already passed a measure which Governor Pat Quinn confirmed he will sign in to law.
With 16 states and the District of Columbia now allowing gay marriage, it’s almost inconceivable that there are states, mainly southern states that will fight on, until the United States Supreme Court makes the issue moot. These same states are the ones that fought integration of schools and have apparently not evolved much from the days when children had to be escorted in to class due to the threat of physical harm. With so many other important and relevant issues facing this country, jobs, immigration and the Affordable Care Act, it’s strange and ironic that the holdouts, mostly religious people, continue to press an agenda of hate, while preaching love and forgiveness. It’s time to move the country forward so we can begin the process of making this a better America in which everyone, regardless of race, religion, creed or sexual orientation can live in peace and prosperity.