In a private, invitation-only ceremony at the Hawai’i Convetion Center, Gov. Neil Abercrimbit signed into law a bill granting marriage equality to Hawaii’s same-sex couples:
“In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality,” Abercrombie said Tuesday after the state Senate passed the gay marriage bill. “Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us.”
Gov. Abercrombie also read from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and called the marriage equality bill “the epitome of the First Amendment in action.” The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which normally has its articles behind a paywall, provided a public article with more details about today’s ceremony“:
Abercrombie signed the bill into law today with a koa pen, which he said he would give to Steven Levinson, the former state Supreme Court associate justice who wrote the landmark 1993 opinion on same-sex marriage.
Levinson’s opinion on behalf of a splintered Hawaii Supreme Court cleared the way for Hawaii to be the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriages, a radical idea at the time. It produced a backlash nationally, with Congress in 1996 passing the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited federal benefits from going to same-sex married couples.
In Hawaii, the state Legislature adopted a measure in 1994 reserving marriage between a man and a woman; voters then passed an amendment in 1998 that states, “The Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.”
When the law goes into effect on December 2, Hawaii will become the fifteenth state, in addition to the District of Columbia, eight counties in New Mexico and seven Native American tribes, to provide marriage equality. Illinois, which had been slated to become number fifteen, will now slide to a tentative sixteenth when same-sex marriages become legal there next June. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is scheduled to sign that state’s marriage equality bill into law in a ceremony scheduled for November 20.