sign the damn bill

With House Passage, Hawaii’s Civil Unions Are Now Just a Governor’s Signature Away

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.

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  • pavement1762

    it sucks that this is the best queer hawaiians have for now, but i’ll refrain from totally souring the moment. This is step toward equality

  • Hyhybt

    Remember: civil unions are a sight better than what most places have!

  • Brutus

    “it sucks that this is the best queer hawaiians have for now”

    From the Honolulu Advertiser: “The measure would give unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples the same rights as married couples under state law.”

    What more could you ask for?!

    I just hope the Gov. signs it; or that the House can come up with three more votes to override.

  • petrov

    This issue has been around forever in Hawaii. Hopefully, it will finally be settled this time, but I doubt it.

  • Hoeke

    Gay marriage is not constitutionally banned in Hawaii. The constitution just says that the legislature (i.e. not the courts) has the power to determine the definition of marriage. So Hawaii could pass a law legalizing gay marriage.

  • Paschal

    @Brutus: Even if the federal government were to grant all of the 1,138 benefits of marriage it grants opposite-sex couples to people in civil unions, inequality in relationship recognition would still remain because relation recognition apartheid would exist. While straight couples would have the right to marry gay couples would be forced into a seperate system of civil unions. Just stop this nonsense and legalise marriage equality, not that if this bill becomes law it won’t be a huge step towards equality.

  • jeffree

    I hope the Civil Union bill passes!
    It’s a good step in the right direction.

    Problem is that when John & Pierre move to, say, Nebraska, they’ve got nada in terms of rights in their new home.

    As long as DOMA hangs above our heads & Prop 8 stands, our rights can be taken away. Think about those proud L/ G couples who married in CA, only to see the window *shut* on other couples who wanted to marry.

    Still, having another state provide rights to same sex couples is a plus, but until Federal (e.g. Tax) law reflects changes, we are still second class. Seperate & unequal.

  • Pitou

    @jeffree: Couldn’t agree more.
    The Civil Union is nice. But it still doesn’t do anything for what matters most and all 1,000+ of them are at the Federal level.

    I personally don’t care for the “M” word. If it’s sooo sacred to their stupid book, then have it. Science can’t prove that there is a magic pixy in the sky…so I just can’t bring myself to worship it’s magical book.

    Technically, all forms of a Civil Partnership termed within each and every one of our laws should be religion-free. Isn’t that the point here?

  • Daniel

    Hawaii didn’t ban gay marriage; their constitutional amendment is unique in that it simply purports to empower the legislature to ban gay marriage, which the legislature did shortly thereafter. The amendment doesn’t prevent the legislature from providing marriage equality at some point.

  • Chitown Kev


    So in this respect, the situation in Hawaii is somewhat like New Jersey?

  • John (CA)

    If Lingle does what the media pundits expect her to do (i.e. side with the bigots), this veto override vote will be far more difficult than the one in Nevada.

    The Silver State passed similar legislation over the objection of its Republican governor last year. However, activists in Nevada only managed to get four GOP no votes to switch sides, at the last minute, by bringing in executives from Harrahs and MGM-Mirage. Weddings are a huge part of the economy in Las Vegas. And the casino bosses needed to give their LGBT customers something a little more substantive than the “Thanks For Playing” sticker. They made it clear to these Republicans that if the everything-but-marriage partnership bill didn’t become law, it would hurt business.

    Money talks.

    No such luck in Hawaii I am afraid.

  • Brutus

    Yes, DOMA still remains a huge issue, but it’s a federal problem. I don’t care a whit whether we call it “marriage” or “civil union” on the forms—I’ll call it a wedding and a marriage anyway—as long as we get our rights.

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