The governor who vetoed equality

Posted by Alan R. Spector on

"The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of Hawaii and our allies react with great sadness, shock and anger at Gov. Linda Lingle's veto of House Bill 444, a civil unions bill passed by solid majorities in both houses of the Hawaii Legislature. Gov. Lingle claimed that this veto was not related to her personal views or political ambitions. The primary reasons given were that civil unions are nothing more than "marriages of same-gender couples by another name" because they offer the same rights as marriage and that civil unions are such an important issue, that it should be put up to a vote by the people.

"Civil unions are a separate legal status that provide equal treatment under state law for all of Hawaii's couples and families regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The language of HB 444 clearly states that marriage in Hawaii remains between one man and one woman.

"Civil unions are different from marriage in several ways. Civil unions are not recognized by the federal government and do not convey the more than 1,100 federal benefits and protections of marriage. The rights associated with civil unions often evaporate the moment a couple leaves the state where the civil union was issued as opposed to marriage, which is universally recognized. Gov. Lingle, which rights do you think should be denied to us?

... "Gov. Lingle's second assertion that the issue is too important to be decided by the Legislature, despite that the Hawaii Constitution requires legislative action, is patently false. The rights of a minority should never be subjected to the tyranny of the majority and this is exactly what the governor is suggesting. Imagine if a voter referendum had been applied to past issues in history. Congress would not have been able to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court would not have been able to overturn state bans on interracial marriage in 1967.

"Luckily for the people of Hawaii, our Constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation and requires equal treatment under the law for all people, regardless of sex. As the governor has failed to honor her oath to the Hawaii Constitution, we will appeal to the courts. A lawsuit is being prepared and will soon be filed by Equality Hawaii's coalition partners Lambda Legal and ACLU of Hawaii."

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