POSTED: 11:57 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:06 p.m. HST, Oct 31, 2013
A direct link on the state's website for submitting testimony regarding the same-sex marriage bill has been restored after being inaccessible to the public for 90 minutes.
The direct link disappeared from the website from about the time House Judiciary and Finance committees began hearing testimony at 10 a.m. to around 11:40 a.m.
Rep. Karl Rhoads had announced just before noon that the website was down. However, a website official told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser this afternoon there was never a crash and the public could get to the area to submit testimony through other links on the website.
Just before 11:30 a.m. Rhoads, who serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, paused state Attorney General David M. Louie's marathon testimony to announce that the system had been down.
The hearing kicked off at 10 a.m. with Rhoads announcing that anyone who signs up to testify before midnight will be afforded an opportunity to speak.
Rhoads said people can submit testimony by emailing it to judss@Capitol.Hawaii.gov if they experience problems with the website.
Those who were able to submit testimony online at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/submittestimony.aspx were assigned registration numbers via email. Anyone who submits testimony to judss@Capitol.Hawaii.gov, however, has to come down to the Capitol in person to receive a number, Rhoads said.
Louie was only the second person to testify, following a representative from the governor's office.
Lawmakers grilled Louie about the bill, especially its religious exemption.
The Senate version of the bill would allow same-sex couples to marry starting Nov. 18 and would recognize that clergy and others have a constitutional right to refuse to perform gay weddings. Churches and other religious organizations would have a narrow exemption from the state's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, as long as churches do not make religious facilities or grounds available to the general public for weddings for a profit.
The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and others have urged lawmakers not to undercut the public accommodations law, but the House is expected to expand the exemption to appeal to members with strong concerns about the bill.