HONOLULU (AP) — A key Hawaii senator says he expects a bill legalizing gay marriage to pass easily in the Senate next week, which would send the bill to the governor for his signature.
With passage next week and the governor's signature, Hawaii could become the 15th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, as momentum across the country shifts toward acceptance of an issue that President Barack Obama has supported. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, with a bill in Illinois awaiting only the governor's signature.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to sign the bill, though it was not immediately clear when.
Hawaii state Sen. Clayton Hee, who leads his chamber's judiciary committee, told reporters during a news conference Saturday that he will recommend to Senate Democrats that they pass the bill during their Tuesday floor session. Hee said the decision comes after conferring with the Senate's president and majority leader.
"There are very few opportunities to participate in government in decisions that define your career," Hee said. "And this is one of those decisions that will define the careers of all of the members in the Legislature."
The measure would allow same-sex weddings to begin on Dec. 2.
House lawmakers passed the bill Friday night, capping a 12-hour session. Passionate crowds in the Capitol rotunda drew increased security and could be heard from the chamber floor throughout the day.
Abercrombie was both cheered and booed as he entered the galley to watch testimony.
Supporters outside erupted in cheers after the final vote was counted, hugging and crying at the result.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia