America

Hawaii's Senate Gives Final Approval To Same-Sex Marriage

Hawaii state Sen. Clayton Hee playfully gives Gov. Neil Abercrombie a kiss on the head before he signs the Hawaii Civil Unions bill into law at a ceremony in February 2011 in Honolulu. i i

Hawaii state Sen. Clayton Hee playfully gives Gov. Neil Abercrombie a kiss on the head before he signs the Hawaii Civil Unions bill into law at a ceremony in February 2011 in Honolulu. Eugene Tanner/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Eugene Tanner/AP
Hawaii state Sen. Clayton Hee playfully gives Gov. Neil Abercrombie a kiss on the head before he signs the Hawaii Civil Unions bill into law at a ceremony in February 2011 in Honolulu.

Hawaii state Sen. Clayton Hee playfully gives Gov. Neil Abercrombie a kiss on the head before he signs the Hawaii Civil Unions bill into law at a ceremony in February 2011 in Honolulu.

Eugene Tanner/AP

Hawaii's Senate has given the OK to a bill allowing same-sex marriage, which now goes to the governor, who is expected to sign.

Gay marriage is legal in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Illinois passed a similar law last week, which is awaiting the governor's signature.

Reuters says the measure in Hawaii cleared the state Senate on a 19-4 vote, with the chamber's lone Republican joining three Democrats to oppose the bill.

Hawaii's Senate had taken up the measure for a second time because of changes made in the House version of the bill last week.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he will sign it.

The Associated Press reports:

"The measure will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2.

"An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says the law will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years."

As NPR's Bill Chappell reported last month: "Gay marriage was in a legal gray area after 1993, when the state's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the unions. But a constitutional amendment that was adopted five years later took jurisdiction from the courts and gave it to the Legislature, which then banned same-sex marriages."

In 2011, Abercrombie signed a civil unions bill into law, giving same-sex couples the same status as married heterosexual couples.

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