Hawaii and Illinois Become 15th and 16th States to Legalize Gay Marriage
Last week Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize gay marriage. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie was expected to sign the bill last Wednesday at an invitation-only ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center. Hawaii joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia who already allow same-sex marriage. Starting December 2nd, Hawaii citizens can enjoy the benefit of this new legislation.
The act will allow thousands of domestic and tourist couples to marry in the state. As a popular wedding destination already, Hawaii is sure to reap the benefits of the legalization of gay marriage.
A June 2010 study conducted by UCLA expressed that same-sex couples would spend between $4.2 and $9.5 million on weddings if gay marriage was passed in Hawaii. Increased spending by both domestic Hawaiian shoppers and their out of town guests is welcomed and appreciated by the local government.
“I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms,” Abercrombie said.
In line with his televised proclamation in support of gay marriage earlier in 2013, President Barack Obama also offered his support.
“Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose; Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation. I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder,” Obama said.
Today our President has even more reason to be proud. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a similar bill at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which will make Obama’s home state the 16th to legalize gay marriage. Illinois has allowed civil unions since 2011 but took two years to make the next big step towards equal rights.
“Marriage equality is coming to Illinois,” Quinn said. “I look forward to signing this landmark legislation on November 20 and celebrating a big step forward with the people of Illinois.”
Marriage ceremonies will be approved to begin on June 1st, 2014. Even though it’s a Sunday, Cook County says it will open for business in order to issue marriage licenses. While lawmakers aren’t expected to be in session until January, the legislation is pending and could change the effective date at any time.
Legal recognition of gay marriage began in 2004 with Massachusetts and saw national attention again in 2008 with Connecticut and California. Issuance of marriage licenses in California was halted in 2012 after the passage of the anti-gay marriage initiative, Proposition 8, despite the number of couples who had already been married in the state.
This past June, however the proposition was deemed unconstitutional and the movement has been spreading like wildfire ever since. Following the DOMA decision, six other states have legalized gay marriage and several other states are expected to pass gay marriage within the coming months.
In addition to Illinois, which has already passed the bill, The Christian Science Monitor names nine states to watch in the coming months regarding the battle for legalization of gay marriage. They mention New Mexico, Oregon, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
Many of these states continue to challenge the ban in hopes of pushing boundaries and creating a conversation among residents. In Pennsylvania, the mayor of Allentown, Ed Pawlowski has endorsed marriage equality and joins the Mayors of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and over 18 other PA cities in doing so.
Sources: Associated Press, Equality Pennsylvania, Christian Science Monitor, williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu