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HI Governor Vetoes Civil Unions Bill

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle vetoed a bill yesterday that would have legalized civil unions in the state. The bill, which was approved by the state legislature in late April, would have made Hawaii the seventh state to permit civil unions. Lingle, a Republican, has voiced opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage in the past. She said that she vetoed the bill because “House Bill 444 is essentially same-sex marriage by another name,” reported the New York Times. Lingle also said that she believes the issue should be decided by a voter referendum and not an “individual or a small group of elected officials,” according to CNN. House leaders have said that they do not plan on overriding Lingle’s veto, reported the New York Times. In response to Lingle’s veto, Jo-Ann Adams, chair of the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, issued a statement saying, “[the measure marked] the first time a civil unions bill passed both Houses in Hawaii by solid margins and was on the Governor’s desk for signing.” Adams continued, “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,” reported CNN. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights groups have said that they plan on challenging the veto in court. Lois Perrin, legal director of ACLU Hawaii, said that “We are standing ready to file that lawsuit in short order to ensure that LGBT families in Hawaii are provided equal rights and benefits,” according to the New York Daily News. This bill would have granted both gay and straight partners the same rights and benefits accorded to married couples in Hawaii. According to a study by the Charles R. Williams Institute On Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California School of Law, an estimated 272 of Hawaii’s approximately 2,472 same-sex couples would have entered into a civil union had the bill passed. Civil unions are currently legal in six states (Colorado, Wisconsin, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, and Washington). Same sex marriage is currently legal in five additional states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and the District of Columbia.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 6/24/10; CNN 7/710; New York Daily News 7/7/10; Associated Press 7/7/10; New York Times 7/6/10

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