The fate of the same-sex marriage bill might just hinge on whether lawmakers will allow religious groups more exemptions. It's a move that legal experts say could appease the opposition.
Giving religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage is already part of the bill. They don't have to allow same-sex marriage in their church if they only accept those within their faith.
But churches who rent out their facilities for profit would have to allow same-sex couples. This is where state legislators could allow religious groups that oppose the bill more leeway.
"Sometimes I think that giving organizations in the religious sphere a little bit of wiggle room, at least for a period of time, might help the adjustment process," UH Law School Professor Carole Petersen said.
Petersen says other states have given broader religious exemptions by allowing them to earn a certain amount of money before they have to include same-sex marriages.
"If there are religious organizations that are opposed primarily because they are afraid that the law is going to change how they do business within their facilities, then broadening the exemptions a little bit might help," Petersen said.
As for letting the voters decide on the issue, Petersen says democracy isn't always the best policy.
"Democracy sounds good unless you're a member of the minority and sometimes the majority can be quite hateful," Petersen said.
She points out that California went through the process when voters passed Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage.
But in the end, a judge ruled that banning it was considered discrimination.
Petersen says if voters in Hawaii did vote on the same-sex marriage issue and voted against it, the same thing would happen and it would ultimately be found unconstitutional.
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