hawaii_senate_passes_same_sex_marriage_billHawaii has become the next American state to legalise marriage for lesbian and gay couples.

On Tuesday, the Hawaii state Senate passed a marriage equality bill; the proposed law’s final legislative hurdle.

The legislation now heads to the desk of Governor Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

Abercrombie has indicated that he will sign the bill, possibly as soon as today, allowing gay marriages be licensed in Hawaii from December.

He called the law a “significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognises and protects religious freedoms”.

President Obama welcomed news of Tuesday’s passage of the bill: “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,” he said.

Last week, Illinois lawmakers also passed a same sex marriage bill which is expected to be signed soon by Governor Pat Quinn.

“The unprecedented momentum for LGBT equality in America continues today, with Hawaii’s passage of historic marriage legislation,” commented Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.

“Before this year, marriage was the law of the land in eight states. By the end of this year, that number will have doubled to sixteen.”

A University of Hawaii researcher expects tourism to increase by $217m over the next three years from same-sex couples flocking to Hawaii to marry.

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