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Same-sex marriages & civil unions in Hawaii

Reactions by the public & groups
to Governor Lingle's veto of HB 444

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2010-MAY-06: Reactions to the veto by the public:

As noted elsewhere, Governor Linda Lingle (R) vetoed the bill that would have created civil unions in Hawaii. It would have granted the same state rights to same-sex registered couples as are automatically given to opposite-sex married couples. It would not have affected the rights of married couples. It would not have allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Reactions were predictable:

  • Citizen Link a service of Focus on the Family reported that:
    "Hawaii’s Democrat Speaker of the House Calvin Say acknowledged today he did not have a two-thirds majority necessary to override Lingle’s veto; thus, a special session will not take place. The Senate had the votes; however, both chambers must agree to meet in order to convene." 1
  • Emma Ruby-Sachs wrote in the Huffington Post:

    "Lingle's actions leave Hawaii with a particularly difficult problem."

    "Public votes on same-sex rights rarely result in a positive result for equality advocates. This is not because same-sex relationships are so abhorrent to the public that they are consistently rejected. It is because civil unions and all equality rights are about restoring basic rights to a minority suffering discrimination under the power of the majority. Leave minority rights to a majority vote and you will almost always see a result that favors continued discrimination. This is why the fact that ballot measures are passing state houses and senates across the country is so remarkable in the first place. ..."

    "All of this is most infuriating because Lingle could have let civil unions lie with no political cost to herself. She is a Republican Governor, yes, but one on the way out with a state legislature that clearly supports the measure. She could have done nothing, retired, and left her successor with a clean political slate. The gains of the Republican Party will be minimal in terms of support for a new candidate."

    "The cost to Hawaii's tax base (most same-sex couples who choose to enter into a civil union would pay more taxes under the Bill) as well as its citizen's rights will be huge. ... " 2

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  • At Governor Lingle's press conference where she revealed her decision:

    • Jay Amina, 50, of Waianae said: "What she did was very just, and I'm very happy about it. It sends a good message throughout the state of Hawaii -– that our people here on the islands are standing for traditional marriage."

    • Supporters of civil unions shouted, "We'll keep fighting!" and "Let's go!" The group of about 100 joined in singing "We Shall Overcome."

    • Lee Yarbrough of Honolulu, standing arm-in-arm with his partner, said: "We had hoped the governor would do the right thing for civil rights and equality. This battle is far from over." 3

    • Patricia Chung said: "I'm just very very grateful for the outcome of today. This has been something that's been in my heart for a long time. ...It shows that the majority of the people of Hawaii are in favor of traditional marriage."

    • Kaleo Gagne said: "I am just devastated beyond words. We got it passed in the House, we got it passed in the Senate and it's going to get passed on the floor when we have a new governor coming in November. 4

  • "Protocolor," posting a comment to the above article, wrote, apparently with some sarcasm:

    "How does this "protect traditional marriage"? I mean, if these laws are to make it so that only gay people can get married, then they're doing it wrong and those congress folks are even stupider than me. The way it looks to me, though, from checking places like New Hampshire and Vermont, is that people can still have a traditional marriage there if they want, even though they also let queers tie the knot. To my knowledge, traditional marriages have not been outlawed at any of the places that legalized marriage for gays." 3

  • Jenifer Cappello wrote another comment on this article:
    "If we put the rights of blacks to marry up to a vote, how would people feel? That's essentially what is happening here. Lets hope the Hawaii government is too smart to drag their people to a vote over human rights. Because eventually down the road that vote can be overturned by another vote anyway." 3
  • The Family Research Center distributed an Email stating:
    "Same-sex couples were hoping to take the plunge in Hawaii, but that was before Gov. Linda Lingle intervened. In a massive victory for marriage, the Governor beat back a challenge from the legislature to establish counterfeit unions. After months of deliberating, Gov. Lingle said there had not been a bill that she 'contemplated more' or 'thought more deeply about' during her eight years as Governor than the institution of marriage. 'I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-sex marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially same-sex marriage by another name." According to Lingle's staff, roughly 60% of the phone calls and emails flooding the office were in opposition to the bill. No doubt you were a big part of that number! On the actual day of the veto, supporters of marriage prayed outside of the capitol while proponents wore rainbow leis and played music from the Rent soundtrack." 5
  • Jennifer C. Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, said:
    "This was a sad surrender to political expediency that does not support business or family interests, but damages them. In caving in to a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign mounted by the bill’s opponents, Governor Lingle has abandoned thousands of Hawai`i families who have needed this bill’s protections for many years.  We’re also disappointed that the Legislature opted to not override this veto immediately -- we would have preferred to see couples win fair treatment through the political branch rather than having to pursue legal action.  However, we’re still ready to do what’s necessary so our clients can protect their loved ones." 6
  • Laurie Temple, Staff Attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said:
    "“We’re obviously disappointed that Governor Lingle has, once again, used her power to deny the people of Hawai`i their civil rights. Luckily for the people of Hawai`i, however, our constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation. If the Governor won’t honor her oath to uphold the constitution, the courts will." 6
  • Jo-Ann Adams, chair of the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said in a statement:
    "Today was the first time a civil unions bill passed both Houses in Hawaii by solid margins and was on the Governor's desk for signing. With such broad support from the legislators, who are the elected officials closest to the public, and the consistent results of the professional polls showing broad support for civil unions as a civil rights issue, we are deeply disappointed that the Governor ignored the will of the people and vetoed the bill." 7
  • Dr. Ruth Westheimer (a.k.a. "Dr. Ruth") twittered: "Same-sex civil unions were vetoed in Hawaii. Why can't gays be treated equally? What are people afraid of? It's not catching after all." 8

    Dr. Ruth is speaking from her position as a sexologist with extensive knowledge of human sexuality. Actually, many religious and social conservatives do believe that individuals choose their sexual orientation. If they can choose it, then they can influence others to make their choice also.

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Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage > HI > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > HI > here

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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. "Hawaii Governor to Decide Fate of Civil Unions, No ‘Veto Override’ Session," CitizenLink, 2010-JUL-06, at:
  2. Emma Ruby-Sachs, "Lingle vetoes Hawaii Civil Unions, threatens tax base and equal rights, the Huffington Post, 2010-JUL-07, at:
  3. Herbert A. Sample, "Hawaii Governor vetoes civil unions bill after weeks of stalling," The Huffington Post, 2010-JUL-06, at:
  4. Mari-Ela David, "Emotions run high after Governor's civil union veto," Hawaii News Now, 2010-JUL-07, at:
  5. "Surf and marriage turf," Email, Family Research Council, 2010-JUL-07
  6. "ACLU-HI & Lambda Legal press release: HB444 Veto," Email, 2010-JUL-06.
  7. "Same Sex Marriage Rights Bill Vetoed By Hawaii Governor. Gov. Linda Lingle says it's an issue that should be decided by popular vote," KTLA News, Los Angeles. 2010-JUL-07, at:
  8. Ask Dr. Ruth's twitter was at on 2010-JUL-07 at 6:18 PM ET.

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Copyright © 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-JUL-07
Latest update and review: 2010-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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