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Same-sex marriages & civil unions in Hawaii

2007: Proposed civil unions

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As of early 2007, Hawaii has a reciprocal benefits law that grants certain rights to registered same-sex couples in the areas of insurance, property ownership, pensions, and hospital visitation. However, there are hundreds of state benefits, rights and obligations automatically given to opposite-sex marriage couples that are not extended to same-sex couples.

Democratic legislators hels control of both the state House and Senate in Hawaii. One of their highest priority projects in 2007 was a bill to create civil unions for same sex couples. If passed, Hawaii would have become the fifth state to recognize same-sex marriage, civil unions or registered partnerships. Same-sex couples would have enjoyed all of the state benefits of opposite-sex married couples, except for the legal use of the term "marriage." However, they would not receive the over 1,000 federal benefits.

Gary Hooser, (D) the state senate majority leader said:

"Committed couples, regardless of their sexual preference or orientation, should have the same rights. That's the bottom line ... we should treat people equally. ... There's broad support among Democratic party members."

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Reaction to the proposed law:

bullet Governor Linda Lingle will not take a position on the bill until after the Legislature passes it. Her senior policy adviser, Linda Smith, said: "We'll give every bill a fair look if and when it comes to her desk."
bullet Kelly Rosati, spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church, said that the church opposes the idea of civil unions.
bullet A spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that she was unaware of any official involvement by the Mormons in the civil union debate.
bullet Covenant News, a fundamentalist Christian news group referred to same-sex civil unions as "sodomite 'unions' " in their blog. 2 It was a particularly nasty show of prejudice against same-sex couples. We feel that it is worth duplicating here, in order to show the depths of hatred that some religious conservatives have towards persons of bisexual or homosexual orientation. Covenant News commented in their daily mailing that Hawaiian legislators were considering:

"...a 'renewed push' to give sex offenders marriage benefits through 'civil unions.' Reprobate lawmakers hold an overwhelming majorities [sic] in both the state House and Senate and are supporting a proposed 'civil union bill" as a top priority for this year's legislative session. If the sodomite bill passes, Hawaii would become the fifth state to make a man's wife equal to a filthy sodomite." 3

Covenant News appears to consider lawmakers who favor equal rights to be reprobates. They refer to homosexuals by the derogatory term "sodomite." They imply that all homosexuals are "filthy." and "sexual offenders." Finally, they suggest that same-sex "civil unionized" couples would receive rights equal to married opposite-sex couples. That is wrong on two counts:

bullet They would only receive a few hundred state benefits. The over 1,000 federal rights and benefits enjoyed by every opposite-sex married couple in Hawaii would be denied them.
bullet Their rights and privileges are not generally transferable if they moved to another state. Unless they happened to move to a state that recognized civil unions made in other states, they would be treated as simple roommates at their new location. Their children would be considered illegitimate.

The bill did not proceed. A vote in the House Judiciary Committee was not held because the majority Democrats felt that it would most likely be defeated. 4 However a new attempt at a civil union bill was introduced in 2009.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Mark Niesse, "Hawaii lawmakers mull civil unions bill," Associated Press, 2007-JAN-31, at:

  2. "Hawaii lawmakers mull sodomite 'unions'," Covenant News, Abominations section, 2007-JAN-31, at:

  3. Covenant News mailing, 2007-JAN-31.

  4. Derrick DePledge, "Hawaii civil unions backed by a majority in state House
    32 of 51 House members sign on to measure that would legalize partnership," The Honolulu Advertiser, 2009-JAN-24, at:

Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-FEB-04
Latest update and review: 2009-FEB-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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