Hawaii—where the fight for gay marriage erupted 20 years ago—is poised to be the latest to join 15 other states in legalizing gay marriage after an equality bill passed its House late Friday.
The state's House passed the bill 30 to 19, and it will now head back to the Senate, which has already approved an earlier version of the legislation. Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie says he will approve the bill when it reaches his desk.
Passing the bill through the House was widely viewed as the key hurdle for the marriage equality legislation, and the bill is now nearly certain to be signed into law.
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Hawaii is right on the heels of Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, and depending on whether Illinois beats them to the chase, will be either the 15th or 16th state to sign marriage equality into law.
Hawaii sparked a national debate about marriage equality in 1993, when the state's supreme court ruled that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples violates their rights. While the ruling sparked national backlash and was overturned in Hawaii, it paved the way for a national fight for marriage equality, including legal battles on the state level, The New York Times reports.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry and co-counsel of the historic 1993 case, declared, “With today's vote by the Hawaii House of Representatives, we are close to bringing the freedom to marry home in the state where it all started... and we will continue working with Senate leaders over the days ahead to finish the job in the legislature and get the freedom to marry bill to the governor's desk to be signed into law at long last."