Same-sex marriage supporters push for legislation in Hawaii

Hawaii will be a battleground for same-sex marriage legislation next year. Supreme Court decisions and memos from the White House lend momentum toward that end.

There were celebrations in Washington, D.C. and at the state Capitol when the Supreme Court ruled against California’s Proposition 8 and parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

For supporters of same-sex marriage, the push doesn’t end here.

“Hawaii United for Marriage has brought together a coalition of local stakeholders to work toward marriage equality in the state of Hawaii,” said Jacce Mikulanec of the Japanese American Citizen’s League.

Mikulanec’s organization is just one member of a coalition pushing for same-sex marriage. Mainland groups are interested in what happens in Hawaii as well three other states.

“Freedom to marry and some other outside organizations have taken just as much look at this issue as local organizations and they’ve seen this as a battleground and we expect a lot of further attention from outside as well,” Mikulanec said.

Opponents of same-sex marriage, including the Hawaii Family Forum, say they are disappointed with the Supreme Court rulings and will continue their fight against same-sex marriage.

Hawaii already has a civil unions law in place. Mikulanec says there is a difference.

“Civil unions won’t be deemed the same as marriage and so Hawaii couples that are in civil unions now will miss out on all those thousand plus benefits that the federal government puts forth. Couples in Hawaii will miss out on those benefits so we’re hoping that the legislature and the governor will see it as the right thing to do to move forward,” Mikulanec said.

Mikulanec sees that happening during the coming year.

“This is really a generational issue. People by and large now are moving toward supporting equity for all couples regardless of sexual orientation. I think that holds here in Hawaii as well,” Mikulanec said. “I think now it’s just a matter of time of when our state moves on this issue.”

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