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Opposing the ballot option are gay-marriage advocates at Hawaii United for Marriage, a coalition that includes lawmakers, businesses and religious leaders from, among others, the Unitarian and Methodist churches.

“We definitely do not believe this should go before the voters,” said Donald Bentz, spokesman for Equality Hawaii. “The rights of the minority should never go before the majority for approval. As we’ve seen over and over again, it’s something that tears communities apart.”

In 1998, Hawaiian voters passed a constitutional amendment that gave the state Legislature authority to “reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples,” after which Hawaii became the second state to explicitly refuse to recognize same-sex unions as marriages.