Hawaii Legalises Same-Sex Marriage
In another victory for gay rights, Hawaii has become the fifteenth state to legalise same-sex marriage in the US.
The move was strongly supported by the Governor, and former member of Congress, Neil Abercrombie, who said the law is a basic human right. Supporters are also well aware of the money-making potential from the wedding and honeymoon travel market, already pretty impressive, will surely get an even bigger boost.
Governor Abercrombie called a special session just to make the vote to get the law passed, with the Senate voting 19 to 4 in favour as the session came to a close. The public gallery, crammed with supporters wearing traditional leis, broke out in cheers and applause as the results were called.
President Barack Obama, whom last year said he grown to become a supporter of same-sex marriage, even sent his congratulations. “Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger,” the president said in a statement. Always proud to have been born in Hawaii, President Obama said that the vote made him prouder still.
The law comes twenty years since the state Supreme Court ruled that barring same-sex couples from getting married was unconstitutional, when two women applied for a marriage licence. This ruling proved unsatisfactory for many people, leading to at least 30 states banning same-sex marriage and Congress passing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and not between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman.
Although that sounds like awful news when it comes to gay rights, it, in fact, helped some of the nation to be pushed towards accepting same-sex couples, and marriage and earlier this year, the US Supreme Court overturned the law and gave same-sex married couples the same rights as heterosexual couples married in the states that allow it.
Back in 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to acknowledge and legalise gay marriage. Last year six more states and the District of Columbia had joined them, and since then the number has more than doubled. Illinois voted last month to approve same-sex marriage as well, and when the law is signed by its governor, it will become the sixteenth state where a same-sex couple can happily get married.
“This is another chapter in an exciting string of victories this year,” said Chad Griffin from the Human Rights Campaign, a group supporting gay rights. He said that every victory shows what can be achieved when people come together for what they believe in, that they really can make a difference and help people get the basic human rights they deserve.