WASHINGTON — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday called a special session of the Hawaii legislature for Oct. 28 for consideration of a marriage equality bill.
"This is now the 20th year of discussion that has taken place on the issue and associated issues on it," Abercrombie noted at a news conference announcing the special session. "I feel very, very strongly that the votes are there to pass it because it is time for marriage equity to take place," adding that he believed the religious liberty protections in the bill would help ensure its passage.
"This is a culmination, not a beginning."
Abercrombie said the bill would be posted soon on the governor's website.
Marriage licenses could be granted to same-sex couples beginning Nov. 18, "assuming that it goes well and the governor signs it upon passage," Hawaii Attorney General David Louie said.
The prospect of marriage equality being "imposed" by Hawaii's courts 20 years ago was pointed to by congressional leaders in Washington in the 1996 decision to pass the Defense of Marriage Act, part of which was ruled unconstitutional this June.
Lois Perrin, the ALCU's legal director and a founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage, said in a statement, "We understand that political leaders are now ready to stand with the majority of Hawaii's residents on the right side of history in passing marriage equality. The question of special session is no longer 'if' – it's 'when.' When will we act to secure the rights and freedoms of our friends, family and neighbors?"
Update at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday: The governor's website has been updated to include the news release, which includes a copy of the proposed bill, the proclamation calling the special session and a set of answers to frequently asked questions.