Abercrombie headlines Honolulu gay marriage rally
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz are headlining a gay marriage rally in Honolulu timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Abercrombie and Schatz were expected to speak at the afternoon rally Wednesday organized by the Honolulu chapter of MoveOn.org.
Proponents of gay marriage have been pushing the issue in the state after being emboldened by two U.S. Supreme Court rulings. One ruling granted federal benefits to same-sex spouses in states where gay marriage is legal.
Abercrombie is a central player on the issue in Hawaii because he has the power to call lawmakers into special session. He has said he thinks a special session is likely, though he has not yet called for one.
An Abercrombie spokeswoman said this week that his office is focusing on legislation, with discussions with lawmakers underway.
Hawaii’s Legislature is made up mostly of Democrats, but House and Senate leaders were unable to wrangle two-thirds support needed to call a special session on the issue.
Church leaders on both sides of the issue have been outspoken recently, wanting state laws to coincide with their beliefs.
Hawaii currently has a civil unions law, but supporters of gay marriage say it doesn’t go far enough in fully recognizing couples as married.
The rally comes on a day Americans around the country marked an iconic day in the history of the civil rights movement, King’s speech and the March on Washington.
Speaking from the same steps where King spoke 50 years ago, President Barack Obama challenged new generations to take up the cause of racial equality.
Around the country, people at more than 300 sites in almost every state planned to ring bells at 3 p.m. local time to mark King’s famous line: “Let freedom ring.”
Abercrombie was expected to lead bell-ringing ceremonies at a Methodist church in Honolulu before the rally at the state Capitol.