The Senate in the US state of Hawaii has overwhelmingly approved legislation to legalise same sex marriage, setting it on course to be the 15th state where gay and lesbian people can legally wed.

The island, which is popular as a wedding and honeymoon destination, has been split for some time over the issue of equal marriage: in 1993 its supreme court ruled that it was discriminatory to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. But five years later, a voter-approved constitutional amendment limited marriage to heterosexual couples.

Democratic governor Neil Abercrombie said the bill, which was passed by 20 votes to 4, was crafted to address opponents’ concerns that legalising gay marriage would infringe on religious freedom. The proposal exempts clergy and churches from having to perform same-sex marriages.


This article was updated on 31 October at 11:10, making it clear that the legislation is still in progress, and not yet approved.