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Governor Vetoes Measures to Establish Same-sex Unions
By
Patrick Downes
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Monday, July 12, 2010
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HONOLULU (CNS)—Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle announced July 6 that she would veto a bill that would have established civil unions in Hawaii, stating that she believed the legislation was "essentially (same-sex) marriage by another name."

Soon after the announcement, the Hawaii Catholic Conference and the Hawaii Family Forum issued a joint statement praising the governor's decision.

"We are convinced she has come to the proper and only conclusion that will best serve the people of Hawaii," the statement said. "Her veto affirms the will of Hawaii citizens."

A coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups issued a news release deploring the veto.

Alan Spector of Equality Hawaii called the governor's action "political maneuvering."

"We're disappointed and outraged that same-sex families will not be treated equally under Hawaii law but vow to come back and fight this fight another day," he said.

Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva May 17 had urged Hawaii Catholics to pray for a veto.
In a new development on the federal ban on gay marriage, a federal judge in Boston July 8 ruled in two separate Massachusetts cases that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it prevents the state from exercising its right to define marriage.

Opponents of U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro's rulings criticized his action as judicial activism.

In the rulings, which only affect the law as it applies to Massachusetts, Tauro said the federal ban also violates the Equal Protection Clause; the plaintiffs had argued the U.S. law discriminates against spouses.

In Hawaii, H.B. 444 would have allowed homosexual couples to gain the designation "civil union," a status identical, except in name, to marriage in Hawaii. It would not affect any federal rights or benefits. The law also would have allowed a heterosexual couple to procure a civil union.

The state House of Representatives approved the bill by a 31-20 vote April 29, the last day of this year's legislative session. The House would need 34 votes to override a veto.

The state Senate approved the bill in January by enough votes to override a veto.

In a statement explaining her action, Lingle said she has been "open and consistent" in her opposition to same-sex marriage. She said this issue should be settled, not by the Legislature, but by a vote of the people.

"I have become convinced that this issue is of such significant societal importance that it deserves to be decided directly by all the people of Hawaii," she said.

"The subject of this legislation has touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day. It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials," the governor said.

The Republican governor, who is Jewish, and not running for re-election, said her decision was not "based on my religious beliefs or on the political impact it might have on me or anyone else of either political party in some future election."

Lingle's lieutenant governor, James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr., a Catholic and an outspoken critic of H.B. 444, is running to succeed her.

The Hawaii Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the statewide Diocese of Honolulu, had worked closely with Hawaii Family Forum, an organization representing many Hawaii evangelical Protestant churches to defeat H.B. 444.

In their joint statement, they thanked the "thousands of people who took action to express their beliefs and stood strong in support of traditional family values and the definition of marriage as being limited to one man and one woman."

The governor waited until the last day possible to announce her action. Her alternatives were to sign the bill or to allow it to become law without her signature.

For most of that day, proponents and opponents of the bill awaited her decision in separate gatherings at the state Capitol in downtown Honolulu. Supporters, many wearing multicolored paper leis representing the spectrum of the rainbow, rallied behind the statue of St. Damien, which fronts the building, listening to speeches and recorded music.

Opponents of civil unions, most of whom were wearing white shirts and red "I vote" buttons, gathered at the opposite side of the Capitol and later in an area on the fifth floor outside the governor's office.

Lingle made her announcement in her office shortly after 3 p.m. at an invitation-only news conference.

Her voice was also broadcast in the Capitol's open-air atrium, and when it became apparent she was going to veto the bill, loud cheers arose from the H.B. 444 opponents gathered on the fifth floor, while a few civil union supporters shouted angry denunciations.


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