Campaigning for discrimination is bad for business
June 23rd, 2010
After the legislature passed House Bill 444 to allow for the creation and recognition of civil unions in the State of Hawaii, the executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable sent a letter recommending that Governor Lingle veto the bill.
Choosing not to express ways in which, if any, the Roundtable as impacted by the bill, the letter chose instead to justify their call for veto in terms of vague “questions” that have “implications” and “complexities” involving ERISA. Were Hawaii the first state to consider civil unions, their letter might have merit. But considering that several states have already resolved the ERISA “complexities”, the letter signed by executive director Gary K. Kai takes on the overtones of bigotry cloaked in terms of reasonableness.
Kai claimed that the letter had “broad support among its membership” and was the consensus of the group. But after Honolulu Civil Beat posted a copy of the letter and the membership list of the organization, several prominent Hawaii businesses were quick to distance themselves from Kai’s letter. (Star Advertiser)
Meanwhile, five more Hawaii Business Roundtable members have distanced themselves from the organization’s call to Lingle to veto the civil unions bill. The companies are:
» Alexander & Baldwin Inc., which released a statement yesterday that it did not participate in any discussion regarding the bill.
» Foodland, which said to supporters that it had no part in asking for a veto of the bill.
» Hawaii Pacific Health, which in a letter to civil union supporters said it does not endorse the letter.
» Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Inc., which sent a letter to Lingle, citing the company’s policies on nondiscrimination.
» Kyo-ya Company LLC, which said in a letter to supporters and Lingle that it was “disappointed” with the letter.
These were not alone. (Star Advertiser)
Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurer, and Hawaii National Bank were the latest Business Roundtable members to speak out, saying they were not informed of the letter until after it became public. Five Roundtable members issued statements Thursday disassociating themselves from the letter.
Robert P. Hiam, HMSA president and chief executive officer, said the insurer takes a strong stance on the issue.
“Our organization opposes discrimination on any basis, and in keeping with that philosophy, had we been consulted on this matter, we would not have supported the decision to call for a veto of HB (House Bill) 444,” Hiam said in a letter to Carolyn Martinez Golojuch, president of the equal-rights group PFLAG-Oahu, who made the statement public.
But Kai – using a common ploy of anti-gay activists – claims that he doesn’t oppose civil unions in general, just these civil unions.
“Unfortunately, the use of the word veto has become equivalent to some, as a position against civil unions,” Kai wrote.
Funny, that. Further, Mr. Kai claims that he has the support of the executive committee of the Hawaii Business Roundtable. To date there are no news reports that the executive committee members disagree. They are:
President & CEO
H. Mitchell D’Olier
President & CEO
Kaneohe Ranch Company
Donald G. Horner
President & CEO
First Hawaiian Bank
President & CEO
Bank of Hawaii
President & CEO
Dee Jay Mailer
Chief Executive Officer
Oceanic Cablevision Inc.
Arthur A. Ushijima
President & CEO
Queens Health Systems
President & CEO
First Insurance Co of Hawaii
Castle & Cook Hawaii
Considering the nature of some of the businesses represented on the executive committee, I am not convinced that Mr. Kai’s desire to oppose these civil unions is as supported as he supposes. Banks and hotels, for example, do not like it when customers think that they support discrimination and executives of corporations tend to look for ways to earn loyal employees, not harm their lives.
Further employers often take into consideration that corporate positions or actions on the part of executives that appear to be hostile to gay people can make a significant impact on a jury should any future discrimination claims be brought against the company. This can be seen as establishing a hostile work environment and condoning discrimination by supervisors.
If any of our readers work for or do business with these companies am certain that each and every one of these officers would love nothing more than to hear from you inquiring if they support Mr. Kai’s letter and share his ojection to these civil unions. And if so, I am convinced that they would like to hear in detail exactly why it is that you have “questions” that have “implications” and “complexities” involving doing continued business with their companies.
Hawaii civil unions on potential veto list
June 21st, 2010
As expected, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle has put the civil unions bill on the potential veto list. (KHON)
At a press conference where she announced the items on her veto list, Governor Lingle said the civil unions matter would possibly be the most difficult decision of her career.
If Lingle does not veto the bill by July 6, the bill will go into law without her signature. Let’s hope that in the meantime, Lingle finds herself in a hospital near a lesbian that is desperately begging to see her partner or stuck on a plane next to a gay man who has just figured out how much more he pays in taxes than his straight coworker.
Or perhaps that she finds a moment to consider the responsibility that every governor is given to do what is right and best for all of her constituents without consideration to the lobbying efforts of those who seek preference, privilege, and advantage over others.
Hawaii civil unions bill may be on the ‘possible veto’ list
June 20th, 2010
Time magazine is reporting
On Monday, Hawaii Republican Gov. Linda Lingle is expected to include the civil unions bill on her list of bills she may veto. She has until July 6 to indicate her intentions. Otherwise, on that date, the measure will become law without her signature.
This is not a veto. This is, however, a way for the governor to buy another three weeks before she has to announce her decision.
In the meanwhile several businesses with a large presence in Hawaii have announced their support for the civil unions bill.
A week after issuing that statement, however, seven large businesses came out in support of the bill, the latest being the state’s largest health insurer, Hawaii Medical Service Association, which joined Time Warner Cable Inc., Marriott International Inc., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. , Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. and Aon Corp .
Hawaii civil unions watch
June 19th, 2010
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is returning from a trip to China and Japan today. She has stated that she will make her decision as to whether to sign or veto her state’s civil unions bill after this trip.
If she is going to veto the bill, she needs to inform the legislature by June 22nd, just a few days from now.
Hawaii civil unions battle illustrates real motivation of gay foes
June 14th, 2010
Republican Governor Linda Lingle will decide within the next week whether to veto the civil unions bill passed by the Hawaii legislature. As part of her process, she has met with both supporters and opponents of the bill and an AP article gives a little insight into what they said.
Lingle is Jewish and, as such, is probably not much swayed by appeals to Christian orthodoxy. But the activism and approach by the two rabbis most influential with the Governor does reflect on what is behind most anti-gay activism.
Krasnjansky, who heads the Orthodox community group Chabad of Hawaii, said the Torah teaches that homosexuality, and by extension same-sex marriage, “is not something that should be condoned or should be legalized,” he said.
But Schaktman, who leads the Reform Temple Emanu-El, insists Judaism teaches that all people regardless of sexual orientation are and should be treated as “children of God,” and thus should not face discrimination.
“Civil unions are a legal arrangement,” he said. “Therefore, anyone who uses religion to oppose civil unions is purely using religion to further homophobia.”
Lingle is Jewish, but has rarely — if ever — publicly discussed her faith in considering an issue. Lingle’s office did not respond to phone or e-mail questions about her religious affiliation.
The debate between Krasnjansky and Schaktman mirrors that of Hawaii’s Christians. Catholic, evangelical and conservative pastors have waged a months-long effort to prod the Legislature and now Lingle to block the measure, HB 444. Mainline Protestant and more liberal preachers have worked to get the bill signed.
But I think the matter is bigger than just discrimination towards the gay and lesbian children of God. It’s a battle over the establishment of religion.
There is a concerted attempt on the part of State Churchists (of various faiths) to legislate their doctrine and thus claim the mantle of “real Christians” and “real Jews”. And, sadly, I don’t think that the more liberal religious adherents have yet realized what is at risk.
You’ll Never Guess Why Hawaii’s New GOP Rep. Supports DADT Repeal
June 2nd, 2010
Hawaii’s new Republican congressional representative Charles Djou was among the five House Republicans who voted to add the amendment paving the way for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s” repeal to the Defense Authorization Bill last week. Djou, who is also a captain in the Army Reserves, earned the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement partly because of his support for DADT’s repeal.
While we welcome Djou’s support for DADT repeal, his reason for supporting the repeal is more than puzzling:
Q: So why did you go against your party’s leadership on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” question?
Djou: You know, on that particular issue, it comes from personal experience. I have served for nearly 10 years now as an officer in the United States Army Reserve. What concerned me about the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is that it just simply doesn’t work. And I saw too many instances as an army reservist, soldiers would sign up for a re-enlistment bonus, get this gigantic sum from the American taxpayer, and then as soon as the unit gets called up to mobilize to Iraq or Afghanistan, they suddenly claim they are gay with no prior indication at all of that whatsoever. Get the discharge and keep the bonus. That’s wrong, that’s unfair and that’s why this policy should be changed, and I was very happy to cast that vote as I did last night.
Djou claims to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I wonder what kind of backhanded justification he has for that.
Hawaii’s new Republican representative
May 24th, 2010
It has been nearly 20 years since Hawaii sent a Republican to Congress. But, due to multiple Democrats running for a mid-term replacement, Charles Djou, a Republican Honolulu City Council member, will be representing the residents of President Obama’s birthplace (His 40% was more than either of the two Democratic candidates).
Djou is a bit of a mixed bag for our community.
He has spoken against Hawaii’s newly passed Civil Unions bill and supports DOMA. However, that appears to be tempered by some pro-gay positions which earned him an endorsement by Log Cabin Republicans.
“Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have endorsed the candidacy of Charles Djou for Congress. His commitment to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, increased HIV/AIDS research initiatives and equality in domestic partnership benefits on the federal level show that a common-sense Republican can truly win the day, even in President Obama’s hometown.”
I am not certain exactly what Log Cabin means by “equality in domestic partnership benefits on the federal level”, but that may relate to a bill by Sen. Lieberman which seeks to extend “fringe benefits” to the partners of gay federal employees. That vote is expected soon, perhaps this week.
Djou will have to run again in November, this time in a partisan race against whichever Democratic candidate wins the primary. But he may well have to take a stand on a number of issues that impact our community in the meanwhile.
As Djou is an Army Reserve captain and I hope that this will lend credibility among Republican legislators when he asserts that DADT is both unnecessary and ineffective.
Hawaii House Approves Civil Unions
April 29th, 2010
A bill providing for civil unions for same-sex couples has passed the Hawaii House of Representatives this even on a 31-20 vote. The Hawaii Senate passed the bill in January with a veto-proof majority, but the House at that time chickened out on taking a vote. But now that the House has finally grown a pair, the bill now goes to the governor’s desk. Gov. Linda Lingle (R) has not indicated whether she will sign it or not. The House’s vote is shy of a veto-proof majority.
Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples
March 3rd, 2010
About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.
Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.
There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).
But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.
In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.
HAWAII DEMOCRATIC HOUSE LEADERSHIP GIVES MESSAGE TO GAY COUPLES: “F*** OFF”
January 29th, 2010
The Democratic Party in Hawaii has told gay couples that they are insignificant, inferior, and beneath their contempt. There really is no other way to understand their decision not to vote on the civil unions bill.
In February 2009 the Hawaii House of Representatives voted for a civil unions bill. The margin was one vote shy of a veto-proof majority but one representative who supports civil unions was absent.
The Senate then shoved the bill into committee where it sat until the day before the session ended. Then they attached a meaningless and substanceless amendment to the bill so as to kill it for another year.
Then last week the Senate brought the bill back up. House leadership decided that the bill just wouldn’t be worth their attention unless the Senate passed it with a veto-proof majority. Because, you know, it’s possible that the Governor may veto the bill – even though she’s given no indication either way.
And then, to everyone’s surprise, the Senate did just that. They voted 18 to 7. But having their bluff called, the House leadership totally screwed the gay community.
The Democratic Caucus (which is nearly the whole house) went behind closed doors to decide if this vote might be a threat to some specific members who really didn’t want to go on record in an election year. They decided to protect their butts and to hell with you. (WaPo)
The state House of Representatives decided to indefinitely postpone a decision on whether to grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.
Oh, and were they real men and women about it? Nope.
No roll call was taken on the decision to postpone the vote, which shielded representatives from having their position on the record. Instead, lawmakers shouted “aye” or “no,” and Vice Speaker of the House Michael Magaoay then ruled that the motion to delay a vote had passed.
And no House member called for a roll call.
So, based on today’s action, we can take it as a given that the Democratic House membership cares nothing at all about the inequalities and indignities suffered by their gay constituents. None of them. Not one house member cares enough about you to even get their fellow members to go on record.
And has the state Party, Democratic National Committee, the President, ANYONE, called them on it? Nope.
So here’s a little message from the Hawaii Democratic Party to you gay Hawaiians: “F*** off”
Hawaii Senate votes for Civil Unions
January 22nd, 2010
The Hawaii Senate just voted to pass the civil unions bill by 18 to 7. Some in the House were arguing that unless it was veto-proof that it may not be brought up there. It’s veto proof. (Honolulu Advertiser)
The House passed a civil-unions bill last year that only applies to same-sex couples. The House came one vote short of a two-thirds’ majority — with one Democrat absent — but leaders do not want to go through the exercise again in an election year unless there is a realistic chance the bill will become law.
Gov. Linda Lingle has not said whether she would veto the bill, but has urged lawmakers to put off the issue and focus on the state’s budget deficit and job creation.
A Hawaiian argument for marriage equality
January 21st, 2010
I can’t guess the number of articles I’ve read in papers about which I though, “They almost got it… but not quite.” Today I read a very simply piece in the Maui News that was as compelling, as direct and succinct as I can recall reading.
It’s a short piece, less than 750 words, about Kevin Rebelo and Frank Miholer, a local couple who make a living planning, arranging, and conducting marriages for heterosexual couples. And yet it hits on all the issues: long-term relationships, discrimination, denied recognition, taxation, immigration, implied deviance, insurance, inheritance, medical care, tradition, family, faith, and the hope that comes from recognizing this as a civil rights struggle.
“I feel frustrated about the lack of understanding by some people of the discrimination that we face,” he said.
But Miholer said he’s confident marriages and/or civil unions eventually will be allowed in Hawaii for gay and lesbian couples.
“Every group that has struggled for equal rights has obtained it,” he said.
Today the Hawaii State Senate will decide whether to allow Rebelo and Miholer to enter a civil union.
Hawaii Senate to vote Friday on civil unions
January 20th, 2010The Hawaiian Senate has set a date to vote on the civil unions bill postponed from 2009. (Honolulu Star Bulletin)
“It is my understanding that it will be put on the Order of the Day (agenda) Thursday and put it up for a vote on Friday,” said Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
This bill was essentially killed in the last days of the last session by amending it to include the unnecessary wording, “It is not the Legislature’s intent to revise the definition or eligibility requirements of marriage.” That strategic effort bought the legislature nearly another year to do nothing.
Because the bill had a start date as of the first of the year, there is some question as to whether it would be valid or would require another amendment. Some senators appear to be pretending that such a technical amendment would be reason to vote against the bill.
However, the award for bald disingenuousness, for unbridled cynicism, for smarmy condescension goes to former Senate President Robert Bunda:
“It is totally about solemnizing civil unions, and I think what gay people are really seeking is same-sex marriage,” Bunda said.
“I hope we just defer the whole thing. We have more important issues, like the budget.”
Yes, Mr. Bunda, we want equality. But that hasn’t been presented as an option, has it? And you would oppose such a bill were it to come up, wouldn’t you, cuz treating all citizens equally just isn’t important enough.
And, in the meantime, I still have not heard back from the DNC as to why they have said absolutely nothing to encourage the virtually entirely Democratic legislature to pass the civil unions bill. Good thing I wasn’t holding my breath.
My email to the DNC re: civil unions in Hawaii
January 18th, 2010
Today I emailed the DNC:
This week the legislature in Hawaii will be considering Civil Unions legislation. As the HI legislature is virtually all Democratic, can you please direct me to the statements in which the DNC has encouraged the Hawaiian legislature to uphold the standard of the Party and vote for equality? I don’t seem to be able to find them online.
I wonder if I’ll get a response. They may be too busy honoring Dr. King’s dream for equality and civil rights.
Hawaii Civil Unions bill starts up again
January 16th, 2010
When Hawaii’s Supreme Court determined in 1993 that denying marriage to same-sex couples was discriminatory, it shocked America. Although some gay folks had been fighting for decades for the ability to protect their families and honor their commitments, to most people – gay or straight – this was unexpected and foreign.
However, the court did not demand immediate implementation. It granted a period in which the state could build a case justifying the discrimination and showing that it was not unconstitutional. But in 1996 the court rejected the state’s justification and declared that denying marriage to same-sex couples was unconstitutional in the state. But they held off requiring implementation until appeal was heard.
And during the five year delay the anti-gay marriage industry was started. In 1996, the federal government passed the Defense of Marriage Act which, for the first time, asserted that the federal government would not recognize the rights of states to control marriage and family law (many “state’s rights advocates” found that their anti-gay biases were far stronger than their professed principles).
And in 1998 in Hawaii, the first “protect marriage” constitutional amendment was passed. But, unlike those which would follow, this amendment does not define marriage; rather, it defines who is entitled to define marriage:
The legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.
And the legislature had already done so.
However, in an effort to offer some pretense of equality in hope of avoiding being required to honor same-sex marriages, in 1997 the legislature had created a reciprocal beneficiary scheme. It wasn’t much consolation.
A reciprocal beneficiary can be comprised of any two people unable to marry (brother/sister for example) who fill out a form. The regulations that this registration impacts are minimal and the attorney general declared that the most significant benefit, workplace medical insurance, was not required to be recognized by private business.
Thus, while Hawaii has had “recognition” since 1997, it is not of much use and not often elected.
Due to the unique nature of the Hawaii amendment, there is no bar on the legislature passing marriage equality or civil unions legislation. And civil unions bills have been introduced with little reception for years.
But in 2009 a bill was introduced which received support. House Bill 444 would provide all of the rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage but under a civil union structure. The union would be conducted (rather than simply filing a clerical form) by clergy or a judge, similar to marriage. Civil unions would be limited to same-sex couples and exclude family members.
The hopes for the bill were high. It passed the House Judiciary Committee on February 5, 2009 by a vote of 12-0. It passed the full House on February 12, 2009 by a vote of 33-17. Then it went to the Senate.
Where it sat in a divided Senate Judiciary Committee.
Finally on May 7, 2009, one day before the end of the legislative session, the full Senate voted to pull the bill from the committee. But this was not to vote on HB 444; rather, it was to amend HB 444 to clarify that Hawaii was most definitely not granting marriage to same-sex couples and that this was a second-class status and to also amend the bill to allow opposite-sex couples to enter civil unions.
By amending the bill so close to the end of the session, there was no chance that the House could respond to the revised version and therefore the bill was killed for a year. Senators afraid of voting were granted a reprieve until the following year’s session.
Now that reprieve is over. (Washington Post)
When Hawaii legislators reconvene on Wednesday, all eyes will be focused not on teacher furloughs that has resulted in the nation’s shortest school year or the state’s $1 billion budget deficit, but legislation that would allow same-sex couples to form civil unions.
Supporters are cautiously optimistic of the bill’s passage. But anti-gay activists are planning a big rally for Sunday in hopes that their display of animus towards their gay neighbors and support for institutionalized discrimination will intimidate potential supports into betraying their ideals during an election year.
The Hawaii legislature is comprised almost exclusively of Democrats. The Senate has 23 Democrats and 2 Republicans, and the House split is 45-6. This is an internal Party decision.
And if the bill is passed, it will then go the Republican Governor Linda Lingle who, while encouraging the legislature to delay the bill until some other time, has refused to say whether she will sign or veto the legislation.
Hawaii Pulls and then Kills Civil Unions
May 11th, 2009
The Civil Unions bill has been stuck in a Senate committee since February. Now its had some movement but it looks as though nothing will happen until next year. (Baptist Press)
The Hawaii bill would have granted homosexual couples all the legal benefits of marriage, minus the name, but deadlocked at 3-3 in a Senate committee in February. Supporters tried but failed to pull it from committee during a floor vote in March, but finally succeeded May 6 when 10 senators — one more than needed — agreed to bring the proposal to the floor. (At least one-third of the Senate was needed for the move to succeed.) But minutes later an amendment to the bill passed, 16-9, killing the bill for this year because the session ended the next day and there was not enough time for the amended bill to pass in the Senate and then in the House.
At the close of the 2009 session, Democrats pushed out a bill, HB 444, to permit civil unions between members of the same sex. It was then amended to stipulate that a civil union was not marriage and that even non-gay couples could use it.
Time ran out for any more action this year, and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa thinks it can be easily handled next year.
“What this bill does is address the middle ground,” Hanabusa said.
New Hampshire Would be the Sixth What, Exactly?
May 8th, 2009
New Hampshire could be the sixth gay marriage something-or-other, but finding the language to fit is not a straight-forward task. Considering the methods by which states have reached (and retreated from) marriage rights, putting them in order depends on what one is measuring.
The order in which states have granted recognition to same sex couples
1. District of Columbia 1992 (blocked by Congress until 2002)
2. Hawaii 1997
3. California 1999
4. Vermont 1999
5. Connecticut 2005
6. New Jersey 2004
7. Maine 2004
8. New Hampshire 2007
9. Washington 2007
10. Oregon 2007
11. Maryland 2008
12. Iowa 2009
13. Colorado 2009
The order in which courts have found that states must provide marriage and/or all its rights and benefits to same-sex couples:
1. Hawaii 1993/1997 (reversed by Constitutional amendment)
2. Vermont 1999
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. New Jersey 2006
5. California 2008 (perhaps reversed by Constitutional amendment)
6. Connecticut 2008
7. Iowa 2009
The order in which states provided virtually all of the same benefits as marriage
1. Vermont 1999
2. California 2003 (with subsequent minor adjustments to fix differences)
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. Connecticut 2005
5. District of Columbia 2006 (with adjustment in 2008)
6. New Jersey 2006
7. New Hampshire 2007
8. Oregon 2007
9. Washington 2009
10. Maine 2009
The order in which legal marriages were first performed
1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Iowa – 8/31/2007 (only one)
3. California – 6/16/2008
4. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
5. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
6. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)
The order in which continuous legal marriages began to be offered
1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
3. Iowa – 4/27/09
4. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
5. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)
And should New Hampshire’s bill be signed, it will be sixth.
State Marriage Equality Update
April 9th, 2009
There has been a lot of movement recently in various states on the issue of recognition for same-sex couples. Here is a brief synopsis (I apologize if I missed anything):
Arkansas – on March 27, a bill was killed that would have banned cities and counties from creating domestic partner registries.
California – the State Supreme Court is deliberating on whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008.
Colorado – at least two initiative drives are underway to either change the constitution to allow for gay marriage or alternately to statutorily create civil unions. The legislature has just passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.
Connecticut – last week codified – with bipartisan support – marriage equality in the state’s laws to agree with the decision of the state Supreme Court.
Delaware – proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage defeated in the Senate in the last week in March.
Hawaii – Civil Unions bill was tied up in committee. Although the bill has a strong majority of support in the Senate, they voted not to pull it from committee.
Illinois – a bill (HB 0178) has been introduced to legalize same-sex marriage along with a bill (HB 2234) to enact Civil Unions. The marriage bill is resting in the Rules Committee but the Civil Unions bill passed out of committee in March and now faces a House vote.
Iowa – last week the Supreme Court found that the state must recognize same-sex marriage. It will go into effect on April 27. The Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House have all announced that they will oppose efforts to change the Constitution. Iowa has no initiative process so it would require a change in leadership and several years before it would be possible to revoke this right.
Maine – both a marriage bill and a civil unions bill are before the legislature. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on April 24. Gov. John Baldacci is “keeping an open mind”.
Maryland – on April 7, the State Senate upgraded benefits offered to same-sex couples in domestic partnership relationships but do not allow for official state recognition of those relationships.
Minnesota – there is a bill before the legislature to provide new marriage equality. It is unlikely to pass.
Nevada – a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed out of committee and is before the Senate.
New Hampshire – at the end of March the House passed a bill to allow for gay marriage. It will be considered by the Senate, where Democrats have a 14-9 advantage (a dozen Republicans in the House supported the bill). Governor John Lynch has not stated whether he will veto the legislation, should it pass.
New Jersey – a commission has found that civil unions are inadequate and polls have found that residents favor gay marriage but a bill before the legislature appears not to be moving.
New Mexico – in March the Senate defeated efforts to enact Domestic Partnerships.
New York – the Governor has announced that he will push for a vote in the Senate on gay marriage. Although marriage equality has passed in the House, without support from some Republicans, the votes do not appear to be there in the Senate.
Rhode Island – a gay marriage bill is unlikely to make it out of committee. A “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” bill, a darling of anti-gays who want to label gay couples as identical to roommates or cousins, has been proposed as a “compromise”.
Vermont – this week the legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass marriage equality.
Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and will come before the House soon.
West Virginia – last week the House of Delegates defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
Wisconsin - the Supreme Court is being asked to review the constitutional ban on marriage. The Governor, in his budget, has proposed Domestic Partnership benefits.
Wyoming – in February the House defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
District of Columbia – the Council voted unanimously to recognize out of state marriages. Same-sex marriage bill expected later this year.
Hawaii Senate Committee Tied on Civil Unions
February 25th, 2009
After 15 hours of testimony, the Senate Judiciary Committee tied 3-3 on whether to advance a civil unions bill. This would normally deadlock the issue, but Democratic Senate leaders will use a rare procedure to pull the bill onto the Senate floor for a full vote.
The bill is assured passage in the Senate and will go to Governor Linda Lingle (R), who has not stated her position on the bill.
Civil Unions Passed By Hawaii House
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.