Keri Bias (L) holds a sign in support of same sex marriage in front of the Hawaii State Capital in Honolulu October 28, 2013.
Hugh Gentry / Reuters

Hawaii Senate advances marriage equality bill

The Aloha State is one step closer to marriage equality.

Hawaii’s Senate passed a bill, 20-4, Wednesday that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state. The vote did not pass strictly along party lines, but the sole Republican in the 25-seat chamber voted against the bill. Only one lawmaker, Democratic Sen. Glenn Wakai who supports the bill, was absent during the vote.

The bill now advances to the House, where it faces a tougher fight despite a Democratic majority. Following the bill’s passage in the Senate, it was referred by the House to a joint committee on Wednesday night, where lawmakers spent nearly four hours arguing about the best way to proceed—from advancing the bill to putting the issue to a vote through a constitutional amendment.

Still, the bill passed a first reading and now advances to the Judiciary and Finance committees for a public hearing on Thursday that is expected to last at least 14 hours. About 3,000 people submitted written testimony by Wednesday, according to the AP.

If the House passes the bill with no amendments, same-sex marriage licenses would begin Nov. 18.