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Hawaii marriage effort moves forward as governor gives lawmakers draft legislation

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) attempted to nudge state lawmakers into action on Wednesday, releasing a draft of a bill that would make his state the 14th to legalize gay marriage.

The legislation, based off a bill that stalled earlier this year in the state Senate, "was drafted in collaboration with legislators, staff and stakeholders," Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie has expressed hopes that state lawmakers will meet for a special session in order to vote on the measure. Speaking after a rally outside the capitol that was timed with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on Wednesday, Abercrombie said he would let leaders in the state legislature review the bill before urging them to convene again to debate it.

While Democrats control large majorities of both the state House and Senate, lawmakers have so far been unable to get the necessary two-thirds support for a special session in each chamber. Abercrombie has said he'd be willing to a call a special session if he believes it would result in the bill's passage.

The push for marriage equality hasn't come without its share of critics. Religious groups have complained about a lack of sufficient exemptions for clergy and churches, though those provisions were reportedly expanded in Abercrombie's latest draft. Others have expressed concern about the cost of a special session; but at an estimated grand total of $25,800 for the five days, Honolulu Civil Beat noted that the price tag amounts to 1.9 cents for each man, woman and child in Hawaii.

Civil Beat also reported on Thursday that those concerned over costs should also focus on the legal fees that could be incurred by the state if same-sex couples begin pushing for marriage equality in the courts.

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