Hawaii's One Step Closer to Gay Marriage

Destination wedding ceremonies on beautiful Maui beaches may no longer be exclusive to just heterosexual couples. The state Senate in Hawaii approved legislation to legalize same-sex marriage Wednesday. A 20-4 vote repealed a constitutional amendment that previously banned gay marriage in the state. The vote comes two days after the Hawaii state legislature held their second special session of the year. The bill to legalize same-sex marriage now moves on to the House, where it's expected to pass as soon as this week and be signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

If same-sex marriage is legalized, it would make the Aloha State the 15th in the union to legalize gay marriage, following in New Jersey’s footsteps this October.

The measure is only appropriate for the state of Hawaii, considering their history. Back in 1993, their state Supreme Court rejected a ban on same-sex marriage, which was, at the time, way ahead of any other state’s progress toward marriage equality. The ban still unfortunately managed to pave the way for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage in Hawaii in 1998.

The tide began to change with (well, everything) and the election of Governor Abercrombie, who has been a strong gay marriage advocate since his 2010 election.

“If it’s a question of people being able to have equality with regard to rights and benefits and so on, there is no justification for delaying them the capacity to exercise those rights and gain those benefits,” Abercrombie said. “For those who felt they were suffering discrimination, two decades is two decades too long.”

And the voter support appears to be there. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows 54 percent of people living in Pacific Coast states —including Hawaii, California, Alaska, Oregon and Washington —now support same-sex marriage.

Of course, in May 2012, President Obama made history as the first sitting president to publicly support same-sex marriage at the state level.

“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” he said in an interview with ABC News. “The thing at root that we think about is… the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

Gay couples don’t only have the president’s support: a Gallup poll in July revealed that 52 percent of Americans would support a federal law legalizing same-sex marriage across all 50 states. While the majority of Americans are in favor of marriage equality, political party alignment is seemingly at the root of the divide: 77 percent of liberals are pro-gay marriage, while only 30 percent of conservatives join in that opinion.