The Hawaii House of Representatives took up marriage equality Wednesday for the second and most crucial of three readings of the bill and passed it 30-18.
Despite its passage, it was a trying day for the bill. Throughout the many-hour session, hundreds of opponents chanted incessantly — “Let The People Vote!”, “Let Me Vote!”, “Kill The Bill!” — in the hallway outside the House chamber, making it difficult to hear:
On the floor, various lawmakers tried to compromise and delay the bill with at least thirteen amendments. Among them were amendments to add more discussion time, expand religious exemptions such that any business could discriminate against same-sex couples, propose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, allow churches to be exempted from the state’s public accommodations nondiscrimination law, and somehow allow children to opt out of learning about same-sex marriage in schools. All of the amendments failed, often by wide margins (e.g., 18-28). Recesses were repeatedly called throughout the process, delaying things even further.
There’s a 48-hour waiting period before a bill can be considered for third reading, meaning the House will likely hold its final vote on Friday. This vote is largely considered a formality and the result is not expected to change. Because the bill was amended in committee, the Senate will have to vote one final time before the bill can advance to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s (D) desk for signature. Hawaii is set to become the 16th state to legalize marriage equality, though the 15th to enact it, as it will take effect December 2. Illinois’ recently passed law will only take effect June 1, 2014, unless lawmakers set an earlier date when they reconvene in January.