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House committees to take testimony until midnight Oct. 31

MEDIA RELEASE

To accommodate the expected high numbers of people wishing to testify on SB1 and to allow testifiers to plan their time accordingly, the House Judiciary and Finance Committees plan to begin the public hearing at 10 a.m. and end at midnight.

At that time if there are people who signed up to testify still waiting to speak, the hearing will be continued Friday, Nov. 1 at a time to be determined.

Due to the anticipated high volume of testifiers for the Oct. 31, 2013 House hearing on SB1 relating to equal rights, the Judiciary and Finance Committees will assign registration numbers to people who submit testimony and wish to testify in-person.

Those who submit testimony online and wish to testify at the hearing will receive an email prior to the hearing with their registration number.

Those who submit their testimony in person should go to the House Chief Clerk’s Office (Room 027) where they will be assigned a number at that time.

Online testimony may be submitted at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/submitt…

The numbering system is being implemented to more efficiently assist the flow of people and their testimony during the hearing. It will also allow testifiers to know where they are on the testimony list and plan their presence accordingly.

The committees are waiving the 24 hour deadline for submission of testimony which will be accepted before and during the Oct. 31 hearing.

For additional assistance on the day of the hearing, an information booth will be available outside of the capitol auditorium.

For further information, see the testimony submission instructions on the hearing notice at: www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsess…

To review the bill and keep updated about the bill’s status, visit: www.capitol.hawaii.gov/splsess….

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Advances Same-Sex Marriage Bill

By a vote of five to two, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor advanced a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii.

Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples are presently entitled to.

This measure represents the Committee’s best effort to balance the interests of supporters and opponents of this issue,” said Sen. Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “The Senate’s bill preserves religious freedoms and ensures that the rights of all Americans are preserved as enshrined in the United States and Hawaii Constitutions.”

The bill will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

Linda Schatz delivers testimony in support of marriage equality

On Monday, Linda Schatz delivered personal testimony and testimony on behalf of her husband, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, to members of the Hawaii Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor in support of marriage equality.

She also presented two petitions circulated by Schatz advocating marriage equality, which contained nearly 5,000 signatures.

“Brian and I support legislation that recognizes marriage for same-sex couples and applies provisions of law equally to all couples committing to a life partnership through marriage,” she said. “I am honored to be the family spokesperson today because the action you are considering is a bright moment for our State and an affirmative unfolding of history. We must remove long-standing barriers and as we offer the same rights and responsibilities to all couples wishing to make a full and complete life together.

“Now is the time for Hawaii to grant full equality under the law to our LGBT friends, family, and neighbors. I am writing to urge you into passing same-sex marriage during this special legislative session.

“For too long, same-sex couples have been denied the same rights, benefits, and protections that everyone deserves. I urge you to pass this important legislation, so that same-sex couples can be treated equally under the law.”

Sen. Schatz has been a long-time supporter of marriage equality and the freedom to marry the person one loves – regardless of gender.

As a member of the U.S. Senate, Schatz signed an amicus brief in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Supreme Court case.

Shortly after signing on, he released a statement: “Denying committed couples the right to marry is unacceptable. It is my hope that the arguments heard in the Supreme Court will further prove what millions of Americans know is just—marriage equality must be a constitutional right for all Americans.”

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