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Hawaii Business Roundtable’s opposition to civil unions falls apart

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2010

A week or so ago, Greg Kai was sure that he had the support of the executive committee of the Hawaii Business Roundtable in his campaign of opposition to HB 444, Hawaii’s civil unions legislation. So he sent the governor a letter recommending a veto.

Since then he has had to “clarify” the Roundtable’s position. And suffer the indignity of seeing significant members of his organization renounce the letter.

Yet another one has decided that lobbying on the side of discrimination is bad for business. (Star Advertiser)

Outrigger Enterprises Group, a member of the Hawaii Business Roundtable, says it has not taken a position on civil unions.

In a letter Wednesday to the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus, Outrigger said the company “strongly supports diversity and opposes discrimination in any form.”

And now his claims of support seem a bit overplayed.

Outrigger is one of five members of the Roundtable’s 10-member executive committee to either announce no position on civil unions or to disagree with the veto request.

First Hawaiian Bank, another member of the executive committee, recently stated that the company has no position on civil unions. The other executive committee companies that have made statements are Bank of Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Industries and Oceanic Cablevision.

A month ago there was little expectation that these businesses support the bill. And at that time “we have no position” might have been viewed neutrally.

But now the message has become “We oppose HB 444, the civil unions bill. Oh, but wait. It’s just for technicalities. Hold on, we didn’t authorize that letter. We didn’t either. No, we don’t discriminate. We don’t oppose civil unions. Nope, us neither. Letter, what letter?”

The end result is one in which give the appearance of support for the bill from a number of businesses who probably would have preferred to stay out of it entirely.

Meanwhile, the governor has until Monday to veto this bill or it will become law.

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