Common wisdom suggests that civil unions will be an issue in Hawaii gubernatorial race. And common wisdom would be right: The state blamed for the Clinton administration passing the Defense of Marriage Act just saw its State House pass a civil unions bill in a 31-20 vote. The Senate already passed its version in January; at the time, House Democrats opted to sit on their hands. Now the bill heads to the desk of Gov. Linda Lingle — whose term must end after eight years — who hasn’t indicated publicly whether she’ll sign it.
But civil unions don’t end the debate. The M-word, which voters allowed the legislature to ban via constitutional amendment in 1998, is likely to remain a factor going into November’s elections.
“The governor’s race is easy for us; we have only one choice,” says Jo-Ann Adams, attorney and civil union advocate. For her and others, the Democratic candidate backing same-sex marriage is former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie; the Democrat in opposition is Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann; and the Republican against same-sex marriage is Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona.