Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed into law a bill that will legalize marriage for same-sex couples in the State of Hawaii. The Governor signed Senate Bill 1 in a ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center.
This new law recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex and extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage that opposite-sex couples receive.
The new law takes effect on Dec. 2, 2013. Hawaii is now the 15th state in the nation to fully embrace marriage equity.
"The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States," said Gov. Abercrombie. "Many people have worked tireless to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance. The result advances equity in marriage and honors all First Amendment religious imperatives."
"We have moved into a new era of Aloha for same-sex couples, who can now share in the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," said Attorney General David Louie.
"Although Hawaii was not the first to enact same-sex marriage, what shouldn't be lost is Hawaii was the first in the Baehr v. Lewin lawsuit, that started the same-sex marriage discussion nationally," said Sen. Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. "I am pleased today to be able to open a new chapter in our state's history and to join the growing list of states in conferring to all Americans equal treatment under the law."
Gov. Abercrombie has always been a strong advocate for equal rights. In 2011, the first bill he signed into law as Governor legalized civil unions, making Hawaii the seventh state to grant such privileges to same-sex couples.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who were married under state law. The court's decision means that same-sex couples who are married in states where it is legal can take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits available to married couples.