Hawaii’s state legislature is holding a special session this week to vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in that state. Hawaii was one of the first states to pass a constitutional amendment on the question, but it didn’t define marriage as amendments in other states have. Instead, it gave that power to the legislature.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took an active role in backing the amendment in 1998. Michael Golojuch, a Democratic Party activist who’s been campaigning for the change, says the church has played a much more limited role this time around.
“The most organized thing that they’ve done," he says, "is they’ve told their membership to read the bill and make their own decision and contact their legislators accordingly. The one thing they did ask is that they have a stronger religious exemption.”
That concern was included in a letter sent to congregations in Hawaii and read during worship services.
The exemption would keep churches from being required to recognize or perform same-sex marriages in their facilities if it conflicts with their beliefs.
While the bill is expected to pass easily in the Hawaii Senate, the vote may be much closer in the House. The website Hawaii News Now reports 27 members have committed to vote for the measure, while 17 say they'll oppose it. 7 are uncommitted. It takes 26 votes in the House to pass a bill.
The session begins at 2:00 p.m. Mountain time at the Hawaii state capitol in Honolulu. It will be streamed online.