Hawaii is just a signature away from becoming the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state legislature gave final passage to a law Tuesday.
President Barack Obama, a native Hawaiian, praised the measure's assurance of equal treatment toward gay and lesbian couples when it comes to marriage.
"Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger," Obama said in a statement. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation. I've always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today's vote makes me even prouder."
Gov. Neil Abercrombie applauded the vote. He had called the legislature to a special session in September in response to the Supreme Court's striking down of a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act in June. The law, which was signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1996, allows states to ban same-sex marriage.
"I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms," Abercrombie said in a statement. He is expected to sign the bill into law Wednesday morning.
The law is expected to create a boom in tourism revenue due to demand from same-sex couples to be married or honeymoon in the state's tropical climate. A University of Hawaii study estimates the law, which will take effect on Dec. 2, will generate $217 million in visitor spending and state and county general excise tax revenue between 2014 and 2016.
Hawaii is the latest in a slew of states which have voted to recognize marriages between same-sex couples. Illinois will become the 16th state to do so after Gov. Pat Quinn signs the state's measure into law on Nov. 20. New Jersey began officially began implementing same-sex marriage on Oct. 21. Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved same-sex marriage ballots in the November 2012 election.