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.
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.