HI House Reps May Seek Extra Religious Exemptions On Marriage

Members of the Hawaii House may attempt to tack a sort of “wedding cake” amendment on to the marriage bill that would allow businesses with five or fewer employees to refuse to serve LGBT customers.

Some House lawmakers want an exemption in the same-sex marriage bill that gives small businesses, especially those in the wedding industry, an “opt out” option. “The purpose is to avoid the type of litigation you’re seeing on the mainland where you have same-sex marriage and you have small businesses who feel that they’re being imposed upon and being challenged to sacrifice their religious freedoms, their beliefs,” Rep. Marcus Oshiro said. But House minority leader Aaron Johanson believes there isn’t enough time in the special session to properly cover the same-sex debate, let alone a broader exemption. “For democracy to be at its best, at its fullest, there must be that kind of time to be able to not just consider it but also factor that into the final outcome and the product, and whether we even proceed with it or not,” he said.

We’ll likely hear more about this “opt out” nonsense during today’s hearing.  Any approved amendments would send the bill back to the state Senate, where the Democratic super-majority would have a fit.

Hee said after the Senate vote that he has spoken with leadership in the House and told them that senators may not support expanded religious exemptions if they allow gay couples to be discriminated against as a separate class of people from others. “Those are efforts that I would caution against,” Hee told reporters after the Senate vote.