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Hawaii poised to be 15th gay marriage state

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Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is poised to make Hawaii the 15th state to legalize gay marriage this week, after the bill passed its last legislative hurdle Tuesday.

The Hawaii House passed an amended bill last week after 55 hours of public testimony, most of which was in opposition to the bill. On Tuesday, the Hawaii Senate passed the measure, 19-4.

Mr. Abercrombie, a Democrat, said he would sign it promptly; supporters believe he could do it as early as Wednesday.

Gay marriage goes into effect Dec. 2.

Noting that he was "born in Hawaii," President Obama praised his home state Tuesday for the move.

"With today's vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law," Mr. Obama said. "I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder."

Mr. Obama added, "By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation. "Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be now given the security and respect they deserve."

Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry and a lawyer with the first efforts to enact gay marriage in Hawaii in the 1990s, said Tuesday's vote was "an especially sweet" victory. It "shows how far we've come," he said.

Hawaii lawmakers who oppose gay marriage are said to be mulling a court challenge to the law.

Separately, Illinois was on track to become the 16th state to approve gay marriage. The legislature — like Hawaii dominated by Democrats — passed the bill this month, but Gov. Pat Quinn decided not to sign the law until Nov. 20, so he could preside over a public signing ceremony at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Gay-marriage activists have filed lawsuits seeking to allow gay marriage in at least 17 states where it is still illegal, including recent ones in Texas and Idaho.

In Illinois and New Jersey, lawsuits seeking gay marriage are in the process of being declared moot, due to passage of the gay-marriage law in Illinois, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision not to fight the issue in court after an unfavorable ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

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About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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