On November 13, Governor Neil Abercrombie approved Hawaii Senate Bill 1 (Hawaii SB1), which legalizes same-sex marriage in Hawaii. After the state House of Representatives sent back the original bill with an added religion exemption amendment, the state Senate approved the revised version in a 19 to 4 vote, as reported by Hawaii News Now.
Hawaii began to wed same-sex couples on December 2, 2013. It took several months for the state legislature to approve the bill. Governor Abercrombie called for a special session to discuss the bill on September 9, and it began on October 28.
Since then, the legislature and the public have debated, filibustered and sent the bill back and forth between the House and the Senate.This legislation makes the Aloha State the fifteenth to legalize same-sex marriage.
Illinois Governer Pat Quinn also signed the same-sex marriage legislature into law on November 20. States including California and New Jersey as well as the District of Columbia approved similar legislation earlier this year after two Supreme Court rulings in favor of same sex marriage.
In late June, the Supreme Court decided that Proposition 8 and Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Fifth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause. Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriages in California while Section Three of DOMA prevented the federal government from acknowledging gay or lesbian marriages whether or not the marriage was legal in the couple’s home state. However, according to the Huffington Post, the Supreme Court did not challenge Section Two of DOMA, which articulates that all states and territories have the right to deny acknowledgment of same-sex marriages – even if they were licensed in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. Since the Supreme Court did not challenge Section Two, each state must individually vote in its legislature to legalize same-sex marriage.
These Supreme Court rulings impact minors in several ways. According to the Williams Institute, about twenty percent of same-sex couples are raising children, which leads to a total of about 250,000 children. States that do not recognize same-sex marriages also do not offer benefits, such as exemption from estate or gift taxes, which are offered to opposite-sex marriages. Also, the Washington Post reported that DOMA impacts United States school systems, which employ over six million people. School board policies offering benefits to spouses of school district employees have been extended to include same-sex marriages. These benefits include leaves of absence, retirement opportunities, health care spending accounts, dependent care accounts and ethics policies.
Written by CHRISTINE SMET