Civil Unions Passed By Hawaii House

Timothy Kincaid

February 13th, 2009

The Honolulu Advisor is reporting that the state House has passed legislation to enact civil unions.

The state House yesterday passed a bill to legalize civil unions among same-sex partners, a vote several lawmakers believe will help end discrimination against gays and lesbians in Hawai’i.

The bill, which now moves to the state Senate, would grant partners in civil unions the same benefits, protections and responsibilities as married couples under state law. The state would also recognize civil unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages performed in other states.

It appears that the bill passed with veto-proof support but that, as we reported earlier, the fate of the bill in the Senate may be strongly influenced by one man.

State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), said yesterday she believes there are enough votes in the Senate for civil unions if the bill moves out of the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee. The committee is currently divided 3-2 in favor of civil unions, with state Sen. Robert Bunda, D-22nd (North Shore, Wahiawa), undecided.

The suggests that the committee has moved towards support and now all that is needed is for Sen. Bunda to abstain of be absent for the vote if he cannot find it within himself to enact a more equal setting for his neighbors. And should that fail, it appears that the Hanabusa may take steps to get this bill though the Senate with Bunda’s support.

While the bill has many opponents – the usual crowd – it does have one unexpected supporter.

Debi Hartmann was the co-chair of Hawaii’s Future Together, the (secretly) Catholic-Mormon joint effort that successfully organized a referrendum in 1998 that changed the constitution to allow the legislature to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. Since that time she has changed her position and now favors civil unions (and is considering marriage). From the Bay Area Reporter:

Last week, Hartmann testified before a legislative committee on behalf of HB444, Hawaii’s civil unions bill. The bill passed through committee and may be heard before the full House as early as this week.

It does appear at this point that Hawaii will have civil unions enacted in this legislative session.

Timothy (TRiG)

February 14th, 2009

The article about Debi Hartmann is fascinating.

TRiG.

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