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   HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii's battle over gay marriage brought state lawmakers back to work Monday after the governor called a special session that could make the islands a wedding destination for more couples.

   Some 1,800 people signed up to testify in person at a Senate committee hearing, which was carried live on TV and local news websites. Dozens of people gathered around three televisions in the Capitol rotunda, cheering testimony they agreed with and singing songs.

   Opponents of gay marriage solicited honks and shaka signs from passing motorists on the street, staging a large rally of hundreds of people timed with afternoon rush hour.

   Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the special session after House and Senate lawmakers couldn't muster the two-thirds support needed to do it themselves. He says passing a bill would put Hawaii in line with two Supreme Court rulings that affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

   Hawaii already allows civil unions, and some members of a Senate committee questioned Monday whether it was important to also allow gay marriage.

   After Hawaii Attorney General David Louie said same-sex couples in civil unions in Hawaii who got married in other states would essentially get similar benefits to couples married under the new law, Republican Sen. Sam Slom questioned the point of debating further.

   His comments drew responses of "Amen" from some in the crowd.

   But Louie, who supports legalizing gay marriage, said traveling to the U.S. mainland is no small issue, given costs and effort needed to arrange a marriage in other states.

   "That is not an unsubstantial burden," Louie said.

   Judiciary Chairman Sen. Clayton Hee asked Louie to prepare a report detailing any other tangible benefits Hawaii couples would gain or lose, including implications for taxes, insurance and other federal and state benefits.

   Louie promised a response and said a law may have implications for Medicaid and Family and Medical Leave Act benefits.

   "I have to tell you, I'm kind of confused now," said Sen. Malama Solomon, who said she didn't know until Monday's hearing that gay couples who legally marry in other states would get only minimal benefits by being allowed to marry in Hawaii.

   Proponents say they shouldn't have to wait for gay marriage, calling it a civil right, and have argued gay marriage could be a boon for tourism in Hawaii as an appealing destination for ceremonies and honeymoons.

   Opponents say society needs to encourage marriage between men and women, in part to protect children. They also say a religious exemption proposed in the bill doesn't do enough to protect people who don't believe in gay marriage from having to facilitate ceremonies. Other opponents want a public vote, rather than a special session in a Legislature dominated by Democrats.

   Nearly 4,000 pages of written testimony were submitted ahead of the hearing, which was held under tight security in a crowded basement auditorium in the Capitol.

   Testimony was expected to go into the night with a committee vote to send the bill to the full Senate.

   On the House side, Rep. Bob McDermott, a Republican representing Ewa and Ewa Beach, introduced a proposal to amend the Hawaii Constitution to explicitly restrict marriage to between men and women. The constitution currently gives the Legislature the power to decide whether marriage between two people of the same sex should be allowed.

   It's not clear whether McDermott's proposal will be heard before a committee. It had been referred to the judiciary and finance committees, but no hearing was scheduled.

  Rep. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the House judiciary committee, said a final decision had not yet been made.

   The same House committees scheduled a Thursday joint hearing on the Senate bill to legalize gay marriage, presuming it crosses over from the other chamber.

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   WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans said Sunday they intend to press Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the Obama administration's troubled launch of healthcare.gov, the online portal to buy insurance — even as the website suffered yet another setback.

   A component of the online system that has been working relatively well experienced an outage Sunday. The federal data services hub, a conduit for verifying the personal information of people applying for benefits under the law, went down in a failure that was blamed on an outside contractor, Terremark.

   "Today, Terremark had a network failure that is impacting a number of their clients, including healthcare.gov," HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said. "Secretary Sebelius spoke with the CEO of Verizon this afternoon to discuss the situation and they committed to fixing the problem as soon as possible."

   Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, of which Terremark is a part, said: "Our engineers have been working with HHS and other technology companies to identify and address the root cause of the issue. It will fixed as quickly as possible."

   The Obama administration will face intense pressure this week to be more forthcoming about how many people have actually succeeded in enrolling for coverage in the new insurance markets. Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner is to testify during a House hearing Tuesday, followed Wednesday by Sebelius before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The officials will also be grilled on how such crippling technical problems could have gone undetected prior to the website's Oct. 1 launch.

   "The incompetence in building this website is staggering," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the second ranking Republican on the panel and an opponent of the law.

   Democrats said the new system needed time to get up and running, and it could be fixed to provide millions of people with affordable insurance. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said the system was "working in Kentucky," a state that has dealt with "some of the worst health statistics in the country. ... The only way we're going to get ourselves out of the ditch is some transformational tool," like the new health insurance system.

   Blackburn said she wanted to know much has been spent on the website, how much more it will cost to fix the problems, when everything will be ready and what people should expect to see on the site. Blackburn and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., raised questions of whether the website could guard the privacy of applicants.

   "The way the system is designed it is not secure," said Rogers, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

   The administration sought to reassure applicants about their personal information. HHS' Peters said when consumers fill out their applications, "they can trust that the information they're providing is protected by stringent security standards and that the technology underlying the application process has been tested and is secure."

   The botched rollout has led to calls on Capitol Hill for a delay of penalties for those remaining uninsured. The Obama administration has said it's willing to extend the grace period until Mar. 31, the end of open enrollment. That's an extra six weeks. The insurance industry says going beyond that risks undermining the new system by giving younger, healthier people a pass.

   Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is seeking a yearlong delay to the penalty for noncompliance, said his approach would "still induce people to get involved, but it will also give us the time to transition in. And I think we need that transition period to work out the things." Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who has urged the Obama administration to postpone the March 31 deadline, said she was concerned applicants would not have a full six months to enroll.

   The administration was under no legal requirement to launch the website Oct. 1. Sebelius, who designated her department's Medicare agency to implement the health care law, had the discretion to set open enrollment dates. Officials could have postponed open enrollment by a month, or they could have phased in access to the website.

   But all through last summer and into early fall, the administration insisted it was ready to go live in all 50 states on Oct. 1.

   The online insurance markets are supposed to be the portal to coverage for people who do not have access to a health plan through their jobs. The health care law offers middle-class people a choice of private insurance plans, made more affordable through new tax credits. Low-income people will be steered to Medicaid in states that agree to expand that safety net program.

   An HHS memo prepared for Sebelius in September estimated that nearly 500,000 people would enroll for coverage in the marketplaces during October, their first month of operation. The actual number is likely to be only a fraction of that. The administration has said 700,000 people have completed applications.

   Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the president had been poorly served by Sebelius "in the implementation of his own signature legislature. So if somebody doesn't leave and if there isn't a real restructuring, not just a 60-day somebody come in and try to fix it, then he's missing the point of management 101, which is these people are to serve him well, and they haven't."

   Blackburn spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Beshear appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," Rogers was on to CNN's "State of the Union," Manchin was interviewed on ABC's "This Week," and Shaheen and Issa made their comments on CBS "Face the Nation."

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   WARSAW, Poland (AP) - Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Eastern Europe's first democratic prime minister after communism, key adviser to Poland's Solidarity freedom movement and U.N. human rights envoy to Bosnia in the 1990s, has died. He was 86.

   Mazowiecki's personal secretary, Michal Prochwicz, told The Associated Press that the former prime minister died early Monday in hospital.

   Prochwicz said Mazowiecki was taken to hospital on Wednesday, with high fever.

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