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House passes amended Marriage Equality Bill; Senate next

MEDIA RELEASE

The state House of Representatives voted late Friday to pass SB1 HD1, relating to equal rights, on third reading.

The measure was approved by a vote of 30 to 19, with two members excused.

The House draft includes amendments, modeled after similar language in Connecticut law, significantly broadening exemptions for religious organizations and clergy performing solemnization.

Religious organizations and affiliated nonprofits would be exempted from having to furnish goods, services, or its facilities or grounds for the solemnization or the celebration of solemnizations if it is in violation of its religious beliefs or faith.

It also specifies that clergy and religious officers are not required to solemnize if it is against their religious beliefs or faith.

The measure also grants immunity from administrative, civil and legal liability to religious organizations and officials for the failure or refusal to provide services, goods, or facilities as described.

The issue was discussed in House committee hearings spanning five days and nearly 57 hours of public testimony. There were 5,184 registered testifiers, with over 1,000 people testifying, and nearly 24,400 written testimonies submitted.

As far as House members could recall, the public hearing on SB1 was the longest hearing on a single bill in the modern history of the Hawaii House of Representatives.

Based on concerns and issues raised during the public hearing the bill was amended to expand the religious exemptions for churches and religious organizations that do not want to solemnize same gender marriages.

The bill is now transmitted to the Hawaii State Senate for their consideration. Upon approval of the changes by the Senate, the bill will be transmitted to the governor for his signature into law.

If the Senate rejects the amendments, the bill will go into conference committee.

The Senate is scheduled to convene Tuesday, Nov. 11, to vote on the amended House bill.

STATE SENATE TO CONSIDER HOUSE DRAFT

The state Senate will convene 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 to consider the proposed House amendments to Senate Bill 1 (SB 1 HD 1), Relating to Equal Rights.

Who: Hawaii State Senate

What: Senate Floor Session regarding the consideration to agree or disagree to SB 1 HD1

When: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013

Where: Hawaii State Senate Chambers

The Hawaii State Senate is currently reviewing the proposed House Draft of Senate Bill 1. Following Friday’s passage of SB1 HD1 in the House of Representatives, the measure was returned to the Senate for consideration to agree or disagree to the House’s amendments.

If the Senate agrees, the bill will be taken up for final reading on Tuesday, Nov. 12. If it passes final reading, the bill will be sent to the governor.

If the Senate disagrees, the bill will be sent to a conference committee to negotiate differences in the measure between the Senate and the House.

Members of the public may also attend the session at the Capitol. Seating is limited and the street level entry doors will be open at approximately 9:30 a.m. To ensure public safety, individuals entering the chambers will be subject to a bag check and metal detector screening.

STATEMENT BY SEN. CLAYTON HEE

Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor Clayton Hee released the following statement regarding the House’s passage of Senate Bill 1, House Draft 1 (SB 1 HD1), Relating to Equal Rights.

“The Senate is currently reviewing the proposed House amendments to Senate Bill 1,” Hee said. “Each member will evaluate the House Draft and we will meet to discuss the next appropriate step for the Senate to consider.

I believe each member understands the weight of justice embodied in this legislative proposal. I also believe the Senate will act in the best interest in the State of Hawaii and in concurrence with the constitutions of the United States and Hawaii.”

STATEMENT BY GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE

The state House of Representatives voted tonight to pass SB1 HD1 Relating to Equal Rights.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie stated:

“I commend the House of Representatives for taking this historic vote to move justice and equality forward.

“After more than 50 hours of public testimony from thousands of testifiers on both sides of the issue, evaluating dozens of amendments, and deliberating procedures through hours of floor debates, the House passed this significant bill, which directly creates a balance between marriage equity for same-sex couples and protects our First Amendment freedoms for religious organizations.

“I applaud Speaker Souki, Judiciary Chair Rhoads, Finance Chair Luke, Majority Leader Saiki and the rest of the leadership team for their patience, fairness and hard work in shepherding this bill through the House.

“I am confident that the Senate will address the bill in the same spirit. I look forward to a successful conclusion to this major step in affirming everyone’s civil rights.”

SCHATZ HAILS PASSAGE OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY BILL

Saturday, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz hailed the state House of Representatives’ passage of SB1, which would ensure marriage equality for all individuals in the State of Hawaii.

“The vote in Hawaii is a step forward for equality and civil rights,” Schatz said. “No one should be treated differently under the law based on who they love.”

Last week, Linda Schatz testified before the Hawaii legislature on behalf of her husband in support of marriage equality.

In March, Schatz signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to strike down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that barred same-sex marriage.

Following 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.”

More information on the bill is available on the Capitol website at:
www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure…

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