As Hawaii’s new gay marriage law came into effect Monday (2 December), couples rushed to tie the knot at midnight.
Same-sex couples in Hawaii are now able to register for a marriage license and get married on the same day, making the process easy and attractive for tourists looking to take advantage of the new law in the world-renowned romantic island setting.
University of Hawaii researchers estimate the islands could receive a $217 million (€160 million) boost in tourism because the state passed same-sex marriage.
Six couples were some of the first to get married in a mass ceremony at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu at midnight, with hundreds of onlookers and more couples waiting to get married, the Associated Press reports.
One couple Keola Akana and his groom Ethan Wung were already in a civil union, but got married to receive the federal benefits.
Earlier this year, with the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex married couples now qualify for immigration status, federal employee benefits and federal tax benefits even if they live in a state where same-sex marriages aren’t recognized.
‘Now we're equal to everybody in Hawaii that's married, everybody in the nation and the world that's legally married, so that's an honor,’ Akan told the AP.
US president Barack Obama, who is a native Hawaiian, said on the day of the law’s approval: ‘With today's vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law.’
Honolulu Pride Chairman Michael Golojuch Jr said: 'We started this battle 23 years ago and we get to finish it tonight.'