In first year of civil union law, Hawaii issued 700 licenses to same-sex couples
Dec 17, 2012 at 01:30 pm
Nearly a full year ago, on January 1, 2012, a civil union law went into effect in the state of Hawaii, allowing same-sex couples to apply for and receive civil unions, which afford couples some - but not all - of the protections and responsibilities of marriage. This week, the Hawaii Department of Heatlh announced that 719 same-sex couples have joined together in civil union this year - including Johnny and Kenton, pictured.
Despite the advancement that the civil union law represents, it remains clear that the law is no substitution for the freedom to marry. We know that same-sex couples in Hawaii deserve better - that their love and commitment deserves to be respected by their state in the same way that different-sex couples' love and commitment is respected.
Last week, Freedom to Marry founder and President Evan Wolfson traveled to Hawaii to meet with state advocates about the importance of the freedom to marry. He said, "It's now Hawaii's time. It's time for the legislature to step up and finish the job that they began a couple of years ago with civil union. It's now time to say, 'We don't have two lines at the clerk's office. We treat the entire ohana equally here - we treat everyone with respect."
Hawaii's state constitution includes an amendment - pushed through by anti-gay forces in 1998 - that prevents the state courts from ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and permits only the state legislature to cure that discrimination.
In 2013, we hope to see the state legislature take the time to consider why marriage matters to same-sex couples - to the 719 couples who joined together in civil union in 2012, and to the hundreds of others who want to see their state stand up for their love, their commitment, and their family.