Hawaii’s marriage deadline
February 12th, 2013
Today the leadership of Hawaii’s legislature will decide whether to kill marriage equality for this legislative session. If a hearing isn’t scheduled before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate or House, the marriage bill will die.
Supporters are hoping that they can find procedural ways around the deadline, but if leadership opposes the bill (or fears that it doesn’t have sufficient support) then procedure isn’t the problem.
How ironic that it may well turn out marriage came closer to a reality this year in Wyoming than Hawaii.
Marriage Bills Introduced In Hawaii
January 25th, 2013
A flurry of bills addressing same-sex marriage have been introduced into Hawaii’s House and Senate yesterday. One version of bills introduced simultaneously in both houses by Sen. Mike Gabbard (D-20) and Rep. Faye Hanohano (D-4) would grant full marriage equality to Hawaii’s same-sex couples.
Gabbard is a former Republican who campaigned against gay rights in the 1990s and pushed for the 1996 Constitutional amendment which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling granting marriage equality and reserved the power to interpret what constitutes a legal marriage in the state to the legislature.
Two more bills introduced by Rep. John Mizuno (D-28) appear aimed at countering Gabbard and Hanohano’s bills. Mizuno, who says that he opposes same-sex marriage, proposed two constitutional amendments: one would ban same-sex marriage permanently, and the other would legalize it. Both amendments would go before voters.
Marriage loss in Hawaii
August 9th, 2012
Recently we have become accustomed to hearing good news on the legal front. With the quite obviously unconstitutional federal Defense of Marriage Act (section 3) being litigated in several courts, there have been half a dozen back-to-back victories to report.
However, the constitutionality of state laws is less legally certain, and occasional setbacks, though disappointing, are not surprising. One such setback occurred yesterday. (AP)
U.S. District Court Judge Alan C. Kay’s ruling sides with Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy and Hawaii Family Forum, a Christian group that was allowed to intervene in the case.
“Accordingly, Hawaii’s marriage laws are not unconstitutional,” the ruling states. “Nationwide, citizens are engaged in a robust debate over this divisive social issue. If the traditional institution of marriage is to be reconstructed, as sought by the plaintiffs, it should be done by a democratically elected legislature or the people through a constitutional amendment,” and not through the courts.
Hawaii’s laws are unique. It was in this state that the first “marriage protection” constitutional amendment was passed, and rather than prohibit marriage equality outright, it gives the state legislature the power to do so.
Until last year, when the legislature enacted a civil unions law, Hawaii had a meaningless and insulting reciprocal benefits program (which offered very few benefits and did not recognize relationships). Although the state has a virtual one-party government, the state’s vocal social conservatives have been effective in quashing equality. However, the current governor is an advocate for marriage and I predict that Hawaii will join the ranks of equality states in fairly short time.
Judge Kay was appointed to the federal bench in the 80′s by President Reagan.
The decision will be appealed to the Ninth Circuit. It will be interesting to see where that court falls in that its decision on California’s Proposition 8 was narrowed to address just the unique circumstances of that state and did not speak to the constitutionality of anti-gay bans in general.
March 14th, 2012
My favorite headline of the day came from the Associated Press yesterday morning: “Voting in Alabama, Mississippi could clarify race.” As if. If anything’s clear, it’s that Republican voters don’t want anybody to win the nomination, and it looks like they just might get their way.
The man with the money, the candidate with not only every issued covered but every position for each issue, the establishment’s favorite who who came in second in the race for the 2008 nomination and is therefore “next” — that’s who came in third in Alabama and Mississippi. Third! That’s, you know, after second. Ronmey managed to pull in a first place showing in the Hawaii caucuses, and he also captured all nine delegates in the American Samoan caucuses.
In this race, every delegate counts. The delegate count, which is always an approximation, looks like this according to CNN.
A total of 1,144 delegates are needed to win the nomination. It’s hard to see Romney getting there before the convention. According to the CNN count, there are still 1,356 delegates, including superdelegates, up for grabs. Romney needs to win 48% of all the remaining delegates to capture the nomination. The next big prize is Illinois, which if Michigan and Ohio are any indication, means that Romney will probably split that state. Whether its enough to make up for the loss he’s likely to receive in Louisiana and the Missouri caucuses, it’s hard to say. April will be kinder to Romney, with Deleware, Maryland, D.C., New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island coming up, but Santorum is likely to win Pennsylvania. Wisconsin may end up a tie like Ohio. But the primaries go south, literally, in May, with contests in Nebraska, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas. That will be rough territory for Romney.
The only way he can win is for the superdelegates to step in and throw their weight behind Romney. That is a very real possibility. Romney’s picked up some powerful endorsements in the party, but those endorsement’s haven’t meant much when it comes to votes. Santorum or Gingrich won despite major establishment endorsements for Romney in Tennessee (Gov. Bill Haslam), Oklahoma (Sen. Tom Coburn), South Carolina (Gov. Nikki Haley), Minnesota (former Gov. Tim Pawlenty) and Kansas (former Sen. Bob Dole)
But as hard is it will be for Romney to wrap up the nomination, it’ll be even harder for anyone else to catch up and surpass him. If Gingrich’s ego were to somehow deflate like a popped balloon and all of his delegates went to Santorum, he’d only increase his haul to 373. (And there’s no way Paul’s giving up his delegates.) In the unlikely event that happens, Santorum would still have to pick up 57% of the delegates outstanding. Without it, he needs to win 67% of those remaining. Gingrich needs to pick up 74% and Paul needs 79%. So it means that when the Republicans hit Tampa this summer, there will still probably be a lot of horse trading going on.
Nice try, USA today
January 5th, 2012
Civil Unions are very very valuable to couples who are able to protect and provide for their family through such institutions. However, as a distinction from marriage they are both silly and pointless.
To gay couples, it is offensive to offer a lower status. To anti-gay activists, any social recognition of same sex couples is anathema. And everyone else just gets confused.
Take, for example, USA Today’s coverage of Hawaii’s Civil Unions law which just came into effect on January 1, 2012. No doubt Nancy Trejos meant well, and the coverage caught the spirit of the story but, well, you’ll see:
The new year could bring Hawaii hotels a wave of same-sex
marriagecivil union ceremonies.
At least, that’s what they’re hoping.
Many hotels in Maui especially, where there were 5,900 non-residential marriages in 2010, are specifically targeting same-sex couples now that a law went into effect Jan. 1 legalizing civil unions.
The Grand Wailea, for instance, is offering free iPads to the first 10 couples who sign up for civil union packages, according to The Maui News.
A recent University of California-Los Angeles, study found that Iowa’s legalization of gay marriage in 2009 resulted in as much as $12 million additional tourism dollars, The Maui News pointed out.
Maui Hotel & Lodging Association Executive Director Carol Reimann told Hotel Check-in that Maui has the most number of visitor marriages of any of the Hawaiian islands, and expects to see more same-sex
“We want to service all segments of the community, and we welcome everyone,” she told Hotel Check-in.
That said, she pointed out that same-sex
marriagescivil unions in Hawaii won’t be recognized in home states that don’t have the same civil union law. “But I think a lot of people appreciate the fact that Hawaii recognizes it,” she said.
That hasn’t stopped hotels in New York from also catering to same-sex couples since
civil unionsmarriage became legal there in July.
At The Muse Hotel, for instance, concierge Marc Camacho got ordained as a minister shortly after the
civil unionmarriage law went into place. It took him about a week of studies, which the company supported by giving him time during the work day.
“It feels good knowing this is one of the things we can offer” guests, he said.
On Dec. 23, he performed his first
civil unionmarriage ceremony when two California residents checked into The Muse. They had had a ceremony planned in California before Proposition 8 was overturnedpassed, no longer making same-sex unions legalreverting California back from recognition of marriage to domestic partnerships. They went ahead with the ceremony but wanted to make it legal in New York.
Camacho arranged all the details, re-creating their July California ceremony, down to the same German chocolate cake and cocktails.
Camacho said the hotel is getting more calls and e-mails from other same-sex couples looking to have their weddings or receptions there.
“This is getting us more excited to go down that route,” he said.
Like I said, clearly she meant well. But why don’t we be done with the confusing nomenclature and just celebrate the marriage for everyone, already?
Hawaii’s Governor Abercrombie signs civil unions bill
February 23rd, 2011
While our quest for marriage equality has a great many contributing historical events, the current nationwide battle can be traced to 1991, when three same-sex couples sued the Hawaii Director of Health for marriage licenses. Supportive court decisions spooked the public and anti-gay activists whipped up hysteria to raise funds, rally the voters, and slap down the “militant homosexual activists.”
And, to be honest, prior to that time a great many of us never considered that our relationships could be equal in the sight of the law. We were conditioned to our own inferiority and few questioned the heterosexist presumption that marriage, by definition, was “one man, one woman.” Hawaii’s legal wranglings first led our community to collectively question just why we should not be allowed to fully join society as spouses on an equal basis with our brothers and sisters.
It did not go well in Hawaii. A Catholic/Mormon coalition ran a campaign of bigotry and deception and the Hawaiian people voted to change their constitution to allow the legislature to define marriage (this was their first effort and they did not yet go for defining marriage itself in a constitutional amendment). The end result was that for the past few decades, Hawaii has had a useless and pointless “reciprocal benefits” scheme by which you and your life partner (or your bowling partner) could assign each other a few limited benefits.
But for a while, the myth prevailed. More than a few times in the 90′s I would hear someone say, “but can’t we get married in Hawaii?” And the dream prevailed to the point where we currently have five legal marriage states (and DC) with three more expected to join this year.
Which makes today a special day. Today Hawaii joins six states which provide the full benefits of marriage under another process (and five states and DC which offer full marriage recognition). (Star Adviser)
Less than a year after seeing the push for civil unions vetoed, gay rights advocates cheered as Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing civil unions and making Hawaii the seventh state to grant such privileges to same-sex couples.
Abercrombie signed the legislation at a ceremony today at historic Washington Place.
“E Komo Mai: It means all are welcome,” Abercrombie said in remarks before signing the bill into law. “This signing today of this measure says to all of the world that they are welcome. That everyone is a brother or sister here in paradise.”
“The legialization of civil unions in Hawaii represents in my mind equal rights for all people,” he said.
It is indeed a jubilant day.
But it’s a little ironic – and oddly appropriate – that Hawaii’s truly joyous occasion was outshown by the actions on the national front. And just a bit sad that on the day they wished to proclaim equal rights and benefits, it seems that they just aren’t as equal as they were yesterday.
Nevertheless, congratulations to Hawaii’s same-sex couples. Together we will move towards full inclusion.
Hawaii to get Civil Unions
February 16th, 2011
In an 18-5 vote this afternoon, the Hawaii Senate gave its final legislative approval to SB 232, a bill that will allow civil unions for same-sex couples. The bill now goes to Gov. Neil Abercrimbie (D), who says he will sign the bill within the next 10 days. Civil Unions will become available on January 1, 2012.
Hawaii’s version of civil unions will offer all of the state-level benefits of marriage. Civil unions performed in other states which grant them will be recognized in Hawaii as well.
Hawaii Senate overwhelmingly passes Civil Unions
January 28th, 2011
The Hawaiian Senate passed SB 232, a civil unions bill identical to the one vetoed by Gov. Lingle last year. (KITV)
The state Senate on Friday approved Senate Bill 232, relating to Civil Unions, at its regular daily session.
The bill says unmarried, unrelated couples may have a judge or clergy solemnize their civil union, which will provide the same responsibilities and benefits of marriage under state law.
The bill passed the full Senate 19-6.
The sole Republican in the Hawaiian Senate (Sam Slom) voted against civil unions, as did Democrats Donovan Dela Cruz, Will Espero, Mike Gabbard, Donna Mercado Kim, and Ron Kouchi.
The bill will now go to the House where it is expected to be approved without problem.
Hawaii civil unions advance
January 26th, 2011
Hawaii’s Senate Bill 232, identical to last year’s House Bill 444 which cleared the legislature but was vetoed by prior governor Lingle, has advanced. (Star Adviser)
Senate Bill 232 passed the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee by a 3-2 vote, after a hearing that lasted just over two hours.
The bill now goes to the Senate floor for the second of three required votes by the full chamber.
Unlike last year, the hearing was just two hours instead of eighteen, and fewer of the public showed up to watch and listen.
Civil Unions process starts anew in Hawaii
January 25th, 2011
Last year the legislature in Hawaii passed a civil unions bill with large majorities. Governor Linda Lingle (R) vetoed that bill at the last possible moment because she felt it treated gay couples too close to equal with heterosexual couples.
And while opposition to civil unions was a part of the campaign of both his primary and general election opponents, newly elected Governor Neil Abercrombie has consistently supported the idea. In this new climate, it is expected that civil unions will soon become law in the Aloha State.
There are two versions of civil unions presented, SB 232 which is identical to last year’s bill that Lingle vetoed (with an updated effective date) and SB 231 was crafted by the Governor’s staff to address concerns that some had with last year’s bill.
SB 232 grants partners in civil unions “all the same rights, venefits, protections, and responsibilities under law” as spouses. It requires a license and solemnization by a judge or clergy member, allowing either a religious or secular event. Those authorized to solemnize marriages are specifically protected from punishment if they decline to solemnize civil unions.
SB 231 is much wordier, clarifying wording about the minutia of the process (for example, each applicant for a civil union must be given a pamphlet about the “risks of infection with rubella during pregnancy”) and the revision of various code. Much of this seems administrative and could more easily be accomplished by simply requiring that the procedures for marriage and civil unions be the same and avoid the duplicative wording and the risk of future complexity from changes to one that fails to address the other. But perhaps legal scholars may disagree.
It also contains a preamble which is more of a political treatise than a policy law, and makes much ado about its “protection of marriage.” The message, which seems to be designed to assure heterosexuals that they would still be privileged in the eyes of the state, if offputting.
Also, amidst the wording, I noted an odd thing: agents for civil unions licenses are separately appointed from those for marriage licenses. No doubt this was to “protect” public employees who don’t wish to serve all of the public, but it reinforces the “you aren’t the same” message by having two separate lines at the courthouse. It is not entirely clear if this distinction is present in 232.
However, either bill is acceptable in that it accomplishes the goal of equal rights if not equal recognition and will grant much-needed protections and responsibilities for Hawaiian same-sex couples.
And today the process of enacting civil unions has begun. SB 232 will be heard today by the Senate Judiciary Committee (Star Adviser)
Less than three months after voters backed most candidates that support civil unions, lawmakers tomorrow begin the process of vetting another bill, with expectations high among those who hope to have the bill passed.
“We feel very optimistic, given how thorough civil unions has been debated in Hawaii the past few years and given that we already passed the bill,” said Alan Specter, co-chairman of Equality Hawaii. [Today's] hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee marks the third straight year in which lawmakers have taken up the issue that would grant same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.
Senate Bill 232 is substantively the same as House Bill 444, Senate Draft 1, passed by the Legislature last year and vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle. The bill only changes the effective date to Jan. 1, 2012.
Couple recognition, state by state
December 1st, 2010
Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:
Marriage on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:
District of Columbia
Civil Unions – a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:
Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population
Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population
Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships
In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.
Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
Marriage update – around the states
November 29th, 2010
The 2010 election has changed the dynamic in a few states and presents both opportunities and challenges for supporters of marriage equality. Here are how I see the current landscape:
Hawaii – Neil Abercrombie, the newly elected governor of Hawaii, is a strong advocate for civil unions. Earlier this year the legislature overwhelmingly approved a civil unions bill and such a bill is likely to be presented again.
Illinois – it is expected that the state legislature will vote this week on a civil unions bill during a lame-duck session. There is adequate support in the Senate, but the House vote is uncertain. Should it pass, Governor Pat Quinn, a strong supporter who was just reelected, will sign the bill. This bill seems to be taking on the impression of a Catholic v. Protestant fight, with NOM and the Catholic Bishop serving as the public face in opposition to civil unions, while a great many Protestants ministers have endorsed the bill.
Minnesota – Mark Dayton holds a lead in the governor’s election over anti-gay Tom Emmer, but the election will not be determined until a recount is completed. Republicans took control of both houses of legislature, so no pro-equality bills are expected; but if Dayton is confirmed there also will be no anti-equality bills either.
The one concern might be that Republicans could try and put a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot that bans both marriage and civil unions. While that may seem like a great idea to anti-gay activists, Emmer ran a homophobic campaign designed to appeal to those who oppose marriage equality and it does not appear to have been successful. I think it likely that an anti-marriage amendment would pass, but anti-civil unions may be too much, and it is becoming increasingly more risky for anti-gays to make such assumptions. Additionally, attitudes can change dramatically in the next two years.
Meanwhile, three couples are suing the state claiming that laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitution. Today, a judge rejected the request of the Minnesota Family Counsel to intervene:
“The Council’s alleged injuries would occur solely due to its sincerely-held belief that principles rooted in its interpretations of religious texts are best for the well-being of children and families, and that marriage only between one man and one woman accords with these principles,” wrote Minnesota Fourth District Court Judge Mary S. DuFrense (PDF). “The Court certainly understands that the Council feels strongly about the social issue of same-sex marriage. Strong feelings, however, do not establish a legal interest in a lawsuit.”
Iowa – after three Supreme Court Justices were denied confirmation, anti-gay activists were celebrating. But as the Senate majority leader has committed to blocking any changes to the Iowa constitution, it is unlikely that marriage will be reversed.
New Hampshire – NOM is crowing that anti-marriage activists have taken over both houses. However, my analysis suggests that any reversal of marriage equality is unlikely. While Republicans took a veto-proof majority, a significant number have already voted against any repeal of the law.
Maine – Republican Paul LePage was elected governor, effectively eliminating any forward movement on marriage equality. However LePage supports the current domestic partnership laws so things will remain status quo for a while.
New York – this one is a big question mark. Incoming Governor Cuomo has promised to get marriage legalized. And after the last vote, state legislators have discovered that “things as they are” may well be the most dangerous position to hold; gay activists refused to play the “any Democrat is better than a Republican” game and set their sites on defeating anti-marriage votes.
Going by last year’s vote count, the current best case scenario is that we are three votes shy of what we need (there are still some undecided elections). However, this time our side is taking to the airwaves to drum up public support, and polls show that New Yorkers support marriage equality. What was a party-line vote last year may well be viewed this year in terms of tolerance and New York values and there may be an entirely different dynamic.
Rhode Island – Former-Republican Lincoln Chafee, who ran as an Independent, beat both the Democrat and the Republican candidates to take governor of the tiny state. And one of his first actions was to inform NOM that their opinion on marriage was not of any value to him. Rhode Islanders support marriage equality, and with Chafee’s backing there is a good chance that RI will be the next marriage state.
Maryland – another contender for next marriage state, Maryland did not suffer party reversal. A plurality of voter support marriage equality, and gay State Sen. Richard Madaleno is guardedly optimistic that marriage will be voted in, perhaps as early as January.
His optimism stems from a number of developments on Election Day 2010, some of which ran absolutely counter to national trends. In the Maryland Senate, Democrats actually expanded their majority to a 35-12 advantage over Republicans. And some Democrats who lost their seats did so in primary fights with more progressive challengers, many of whom vowed to be even stronger champions for marriage equality.
And, of course, all of the above could be impacted by Perry v. Schwarzenegger should the courts find that marriage laws which restrict gay people from participation are contrary to the Due Process or Equal Protections clauses of the 14th Amendement.
Belated good news from Hawaii
October 12th, 2010
Hawaii Democrats have chosen former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie in their bid to take back the governor’s office after eight years of Republican control.
Abercrombie defeated longtime political rival ex-Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in a bitterly contested campaign that focused on character and leadership experience.
Abercrombie will face Republican nominee Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona in the November campaign to succeed GOP Gov. Linda Lingle in President Barack Obama’s birth state.
Polls have shown Abercrombie as a likely winner in the very Democratic state. His biggest threat was Hannemann, a Mormon, who campaigned on an anti-gay platform.
Hannemann’s supporters released an ad during the primary which criticized Abercrombie for supporting the civil unions bill which was vetoed by Republican Governor Linda Lingle, “In the battle of HB444, we learned the importance of electing people with our traditional Christian values.”
I think that it is likely that should Abercrombie be elected in November will open the way for the Hawaii state legislature to revisit their support of gay couples. And I think that this time they may opt for full marriage equality.
Gay couples sue Hawaii for rights
July 31st, 2010
In 1993, the Supreme Court of Hawaii found that it was discriminatory to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This set off a wave of “defense of marriage acts” which limited marriage to opposite sex couples in 60% of the states.
However, Hawaii was the first to amend its constitution in 1998, and their approach was different from those which would follow. It did not ban same-sex marriage or any benefits. Rather, it simply said
The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.
And the state legislature promptly did so. But as a token effort to pretend that it was not discriminating, it created something called reciprocal beneficial registration.
This unique system would allow any two adults, be they a couple, a parent and child, bowling buddies, or anyone else, to mail a form to the Department of Health and thereby become a beneficiary of the other. Benefits are very limited and include rights, workers compensation, the right to sue for wrongful death, health insurance and pension benefits for state employees, hospital visitation, and healthcare decisionmaking.
These are not in any way equivalent to marriage. And, indeed, they seem to have been crafted specifically to deny state recognition to couples. While there are a few pass-through benefits, there are no mutual obligations of support or protection.
So this week six same-sex couples sued the state for equivalent rights. (AP)
Six gay couples in Hawaii are filing a lawsuit Thursday asking for the same rights as married couples, three weeks after Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a same-sex civil unions measure.
The lawsuit doesn’t seek the titles of “marriage” or “civil unions” for gay partners. Instead, it requests that the court system extend them the benefits and responsibilities of marriage based on the Hawaii Constitution’s prohibition against sex discrimination.
Should Neil Abercrombie win the Democratic Primary for Hawaii Governor, he is expected to win the general election. Then the legislature will probably pass civil unions in 2011 and Abercrombie will sign such a bill. At that time the lawsuit would be dropped.
However, if Abercrombie does not win the primary, the case will probably continue to the state supreme court. His opponent Mufi Hannemann has said that he would veto such a bill, as would the Repulican nominees.
Two of the five Supreme Court Justices were part of the court when Baehr v. Lewin, the case that determined Hawaii to be in violation of its constition, was decided; both sided with equality. One justice was appointed by a Democrat, and two were appointed by Governor Lingle – who just vetoed civil unions – though only one of them is a Republican.
Lingle’s veto justified by an argument based in a sense of entitlement and superiority
July 7th, 2010
I do not believe that Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is a bigot. I have not witnessed overt hostility towards gay Hawaiians or a pattern of anti-gay activism on her part. I think that she perceives herself as respectful and that she genuinely did feel some measure of compassion for the gay men and women who met with her on this issue.
However, one need not personally be a bigot to be motivated by disreputable intentions. And the argument that eventually compelled Lingle to veto this legislation was based in a sense of entitlement and superiority, the same emotion that drives racism, sexism, and other forms of bigoted expression.
From the text of Lingle’s veto speech:
I am vetoing this bill because I have become convinced that this issue is of such significant societal importance that it deserves to be decided directly by all the people of Hawaii.
After listening to those both for and against HB 444 I have gained a new appreciation for just how deeply people of all ages and backgrounds feel on this matter, and how significantly they believe the issue will affect their lives.
Few could be unmoved by the poignant story told to me in my office by a young, Big Island man who recounted the journey he had taken to bring himself to tell his very traditional parents that he was gay. I was similarly touched by the mother who in the same office expressed anguish at the prospect of the public schools teaching her children that a same gender marriage was equivalent to their mother and father’s marriage.
But in the end, it wasn’t the persuasiveness of public debates, the soundness of legal arguments, or the volume of letters and emails that convinced me to reach this decision. It was the depth of emotion felt by those on both sides of the issue that revealed to me how fundamental the institution of marriage is to our community.
Lingle’s examples – those which best illustrated the “depth of emotion” which she observed – consisted of two individual stories.
In the first, Lingle ignored entirely the real concerns and needs of same-sex couples. She dismissed rights, obligations, and benefits to focus instead on a coming out story. We don’t know if this man was denied hospital visitation or if he paid higher taxes or even if he was part of a couple; we only know that his parents were traditional (with the assumption that all traditional parents are, by default, homophobic).
That is how Lingle characterized the entire quest for couples equality: the emotional difficulty of coming out.
Her second example was more accurate; it correctly expressed the motivations of those who object to civil equality.
This woman wished for her children to believe in the superiority of heterosexuals. She wished them to believe that heterosexuals are due privileges and benefits solely for being heterosexual. And she opposed any public impressions that would suggest that all citizens of Hawaii are equal. The idea that a school might teach that those same-sex people in a civil union were equivalent to her and her husband brought her anguish.
And this is at the heart of Lingle’s decision. This was the argument which she found compelling. Indeed, it wasn’t even a matter of some religion or other owning the word “marriage” but because she found civil unions to be “essentially marriage by another name.”
In her follow up comments, Lingle clarified that her objection was that HB 444 “has all the same rights, responsibilities, benefits and protections” as marriage. It just didn’t leave heterosexual as adequately “better” than gays and lesbians.
Lingle begs her constituents to recognize that she gave the decision making process the dignity that it deserves. But I am not so generous as to assume dignity or a fair consideration.
Because Governor Linda Lingle, like the woman whose anguish justified Lingle’s veto, wants to keep heterosexuals as privileged, superior, and entitled. And that is a most disreputable motivation.
More on the Hawaii Civil Unions Veto
July 6th, 2010
Gov. Linda Lingle (R) today announced that she would veto the civil unions bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature, calling the measure “marriage by another name.” Of course, the bill isn’t “marriage by another name” at all. As civil unions, they would not have been recognized by any other state that recognizes same-sex marriages from other states. Nor would they be recognized by the federal government if the Defense of Marriage Act were to be repealed.
The Senate passed the bill last January by a veto-proof majority of 18-7. The House passed the bill in April by a 31-20 vote, which was just three votes short of the two-thirds that would be needed for an override. Against that backdrop, Lingle’s reasoning for vetoing the bill was downright nonsensical:
“The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day,” Lingle said. “It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials.
This year is a gubernatorial election year for Hawaii, and the subject of civil unions may become a campaign issue. Predictably, it has already put the two gubernatorial candidates seeking to replace Lingle on opposite sides of the issue. Republican candidate and current Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona commended Lingle “for making this difficult and courageous decision.” He also called for a public referendum to put a minorities human rights up for a vote.
Meanwhile Democratic candidate and former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said:
“HB 444 was not a same-sex marriage bill. The State Legislature has already defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha.
“Now, it will be up to the next governor and Legislature to ensure that all people of Hawaii receive equal treatment. Protecting people’s civil rights cannot be compromised. I am committed to that most essential of constitutional imperatives.”
Hawaii Civil Unions Vetoed
July 6th, 2010
Republican Governor Linda Lingle vetoed Civil Unions in Hawaii because “it deserves to be decided by all the people”. In other words, minority rights should be put up to the whims of the majority.
Hawaii civil unions makes the first cut
July 2nd, 2010
Yesterday Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle vetoed two pieces of legislation. HB 444, the civil unions bill was not among them.
She has until Tuesday to veto bills before they become law with or without her signature. If she is going to veto this bill, it will most likely be late this afternoon when the news can be nearly invisible over a three day holiday weekend.
Hawaii Business Roundtable’s opposition to civil unions falls apart
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.
Hawaii Business Roundtable may have inadvertently helped civil unions
June 24th, 2010
When Greg Kai sent a letter on Hawaii Business Roundtable letterhead asking Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle to veto the state’s civil unions bill, he probably thought that he was giving the impression that he was speaking for the state’s business community. But his letter did not go unchallenged. (Star Advertiser)
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights group, which is based in Washington, D.C., sent two activists to the islands to help respond to the Roundtable’s veto request.
Tony Wagner, the Human Rights Campaign’s western regional field director, said the group had initially targeted contacts at national companies that are members of the Roundtable. Five national companies — including Starwood, Time Warner and Marriott — publicly broke with the Roundtable last Thursday.
“Once the snowball starting rolling, then we started hearing from a number of other companies that were represented on (the Roundtable),” Wagner said.
In all, more than 20 companies and executives responded. (Pacific Business News)
After that letter circulated, at least 20 HBR members distanced themselves from the HBR’s veto recommendation, including Time Warner Cable and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
Now Kai is trying to assert that the Roundtable “opposes any form of discrimination, including based on race, religion, political or sexual orientation” and has taken no position on civil unions. It’s all about the “technical issues”, he’s still trying to claim, but the organization members aren’t happy that Kai’s technical concerns are giving them a PR nightmare.
I think it will be a long time before Mr. Kai again attempts to use his employment with the Hawaii Business Roundtable to engage in anti-gay activism.
And in the meanwhile the public perception is that, unlike Mr. Kai, the business community in Hawaii has no problem with HB444, the civil unions bill.