House leaders caucus on Supreme Court gay marriage issue

House to poll members on whether there is enough support for same-sex marriage

 UPDATED 5:14 PM HST Jun 27, 2013
Same sex couple
HONOLULU -

Church bells ring in times of both sadness and joy.

Today they rang out at a Makiki church.

There were 50 chimes for 50 states after landmark rulings supporting gay marriage.

"John Dunne, an Anglican priest once said. ‘Ask not for whom the bells toll.’ So, the bells are a reminder that we are part of a larger community. Today we are ringing the bell 50 times because we are praying for our country and giving thanks for our democracy," said the Rev. Michael Arase-Barham of St. Clement’s Church.

At the state Capitol on Wednesday, House lawmakers said they will begin polling their 51 members if they should go beyond civil unions and allow same-?sex marriage.

"The House leadership team does not want to dictate a result on this. We really want members to make their own decision on how to proceed with this," said House Majority Leader Scott Saiki.

 To some it’s an easy decision -- a question of fairness.

"Clearly you have seen heterosexual couples who receive federal benefits and save thousands of dollars. So the question is, are we going to afford same sex couples that same opportunity?" said Rep. Chris Lee.

Judiciary Chairman Karl Rhoads thinks with the Supreme Court ruling, the stakes are higher this time.

Republicans who support gay marriage
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
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Floyd Yarmuth/CNN
Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced her support in June 2013 for same-sex marriage, becoming the third sitting GOP senator to back the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry. "I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples' lives -- while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another," she wrote in an opinion piece on her website.

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Sen Olympia Snowe

Click here to see which Republicans support same-sex marriage.

"People who were on the fence before, this will push them over on the same-sex side with the understanding that civil unions aren't good enough," said Rep. Rhoads.

 "The expectation is that equality is coming. It is not a matter of if, but when. The bills that were introduced last session could be reviewed again, if lawmakers want to make this next step," said Jacce Mikulanec of Equality Today.

Hawaii Family Forum, on the other hand, urged lawmakers not to decide this on their own. Instead it says put it on the ballot and let voters choose.

“Hawaii had the conversation in the 1990s. We amended our constitution defining marriage between one man and one woman. So I think the Legislature really needs to go back to the constitutional process if they want to change the marriage laws," said Jim Hochberg.

House lawmakers began polling their members Wednesday,  and said they may have the results in a couple of weeks.

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