Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday in the state where the fight for gay marriage began 20 years ago.
"In Hawaii, we believe in fairness, justice and human equality," Abercrombie said Tuesday following passage of the bill in the Senate. "Today, we celebrate our diversity defining us rather than dividing us."
The new law will reverse a 1994 statute defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman in Hawaii, which followed a court battle that arose after two women applied for a marriage license in 1990.
Hawaii is now the 15th U.S. state to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples, with Illinois expected to join the ranks later this month.
And as Reuters reports, "The trend has gained steam since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that married same-sex couples are eligible for federal benefits, striking down a key part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act."
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage, and co-counsel during the 1990s court case in Hawaii, released the following statement:
After twenty years of work to win the state where it all started, the Hawaii freedom to marry victory today is especially sweet. It also shows how far we have come. The same legislature that in the 1990's passed the first of the anti-gay constitutional amendments now voted resoundingly for the freedom to marry. Like the millions of Americans who have evolved to become the national majority for marriage, Hawaii's leaders opened their hearts and changed their minds, writing this new freedom to marry chapter in America's history of liberty and justice for all. In 2013 we've won the freedom to marry in our nation's first state and its 50th. We will keep going until we win the freedom to marry nationwide -- and, happily, it won't take another 20 years. Aloha, freedom to marry!