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Hawaii Senate passes gay marriage, sends to House

BY OSKAR GARCIA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONOLULU -- The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage, sending the measure to more uncertain prospects in the House.

After nearly two hours of discussion on the Senate floor on the merits of allowing same-sex couples to marry, the bill passed easily, 20-4, with one senator abstaining. The Hawaii Senate is dominated by Democrats, with only one Republican.

The House referred the bill to a joint committee later in the day, but not before a nearly four-hour session that was riddled with arguments, recesses, private caucus meetings and maneuvering by lawmakers on both sides to the issue to either move the measure along, delay it or advance a rival bill to put the matter to a public vote through a constitutional amendment.

Democratic Sen. Clayton Hee said before voting for the bill in the Senate that the moment is career-defining and lawmakers should embrace it.

"I ask you to expand the meaning of the word 'aloha' to truly include everyone," regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation, Hee said.

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