Photographed by Winnie Au.
Get ready to add Hawaii to the list! The Aloha State Senate passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday. And now, all that's needed is a signature from Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who is a vocal proponent of the bill and is expected to sign it into law Wednesday. The bill will allow all gay residents and even tourists to Hawaii to marry beginning December 2.
The bill passed in the Senate 19-4, with two senators excused from voting. When the floor erupted in cheers after the vote, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who voted against the bill, banged the gavel and told the room to settle down.
In a statement yesterday, President Obama praised the bill's passage. "Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger," he said. "By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation."
Besides the obvious win for equal rights advocates, this is also a boon for Hawaii's economy, which is expected to see a boost of $217 million in tourism over the next three years, according to estimates from the University of Hawaii.