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House tightens rules for testifying on same-sex marriage bill

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    People gather at the state Capitol today for the fourth day of hearings on the same-sex marriage bill.

The state House has tightened screening procedures for testimony on the same-sex marriage bill, Rep. Sylvia Luke said today.

The House has committed to hearing from the 5,184 people who had signed up, but opponents have used the process to delay the marathon hearing.

Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuu-anu) said the House Judiciary Committee and the House Finance Committee would not allow people to give proxy testimony for those who have signed up to testify but are not present. She said that photo identification would be enforced to ensure people are indeed registered to testify.

“We really want to discourage individuals from telling others that they can come and give other people’s names or talk on behalf of other people, because that’s really going to be wasting that person’s time, and they’re being misled into thinking that’s being allowed here,” Luke told reporters. “That’s not being allowed.”

Luke, the chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, also noted that she has conducted her own committee hearings differently, cutting off testimony once it becomes repetitive.

“The way I run my hearings is, if there’s duplication — if people are saying the same thing — I would automatically cut it off,” she said.

Luke said that at this point in the gay marriage hearing, “90 percent of the information is duplicative, but we made a commitment to hear testimony, because this is a serious issue, and this is important for a lot of people … But if people are trying to get other people — or trying to testify on behalf of other people — then that kind of defeats the whole purpose of having this hearing.”

Later today, state Rep. Marcus Oshiro sent a memo to Luke and Rep. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, challenging them to cite the rule that allows them to ask people for valid identification before they testify or restrict testimony by proxy.

“I have grave concerns that these reports, if found accurate, taints the fairness of these proceedings and taints the validity of any committee action resulting from them,” Oshiro wrote.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said the committees have discretion over how to accept public testimony and conduct hearings.

Testimony in the House entered its fourth day today.

The measure passed easily in the Senate last week but is expected to be amended and see a closer vote in the House, which has seven Republicans and some Democrats who do not support gay marriage. An amended bill would have to be approved by the Senate.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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