Hawaii House Passes Civil Unions Bill

The Hawaii House passed a bill Friday to legalize civil unions in the state, voting in favor of the measure by 31-19. After the bill died last year at the hands of former governor Linda Lingle, the Democratic leadership in both chambers has made passing the legislation a priority.

Prior to the vote lawmakers engaged in a familiar sounding debate.

From NECN:

“It’s all about being treated like everybody else,” said Rep. Blake Oshiro, D-Aiea-Halawa, who is gay. “Let today be that day where we move ever closer to justice for all.”

Other representatives argued that civil unions are same-sex marriage by another name.

“It’s basically shaking the institution of marriage,” said Rep. Joe Souki, D-Waihee-Wailuku. “It’s been challenged, and it will never be the same.”

The Rainbow State has been a battleground in the gay rights movement for nearly 20 years, dating to a 1993 state Supreme Court decision that nearly legalized gay marriage. The ruling would have made Hawaii the first state to allow same-sex couples to wed, but it didn’t take effect while voters were given a chance to decide.

They responded five years later by overwhelmingly passing the nation’s first “defense of marriage” constitutional amendment, approved by 69 percent of voters who gave the Legislature the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.

The amendment resulted in a law banning gay marriage in Hawaii but left the door open for civil unions.

A similar civil unions bill was approved by the Senate in the final week of January, with the full Senate having agreed on the bill by a 19-6 vote.

The House version of the bill, which clarifies certain tax, divorce and annulment matters, will now need approval from the upper chamber one final time before the bill can be sent to Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie’s desk. Indications are that the Senate will approve the bill, and Abercrombie has said he supports civil unions.

As mentioned above, a civil unions bill was vetoed last year by former governor Linda Lingle who blocked the legislation because she said civil unions were too like marriages.

LGBT rights groups threatened to take legal action because a state supreme court ruling ruled that gay and lesbian citizens must be provided the state sanctioned rights of marriage even if a constitutional amendment prevents them from having actual marriages.

The Senate could take the amended civil unions bill up as soon as this coming week.


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildvn.

52 comments

Anne Brabson
Anne B7 years ago

Way to go Hawaii! Mahalo to all who worked hard to see this day come in our 50th state!!

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Lepidopter Phoenyx

Julie, I'm still waiting for that same explanation.
The only people who have the power to devalue, damage, or destroy my husband's and my marriage are me and my husband. Our marriage isn't about other people, it's about US.
Anyone whose marriage is so fragile that it can be ruined by other people getting married needs to look in the mirror for the source of the problem.

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Athena C.
Athena C7 years ago

mahalo Hawaii!

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Jan N.
Jan N7 years ago

This shouldn't have to happen in such a piecemeal, state by state fashion. Repeal DOMA, legalize marriage between consenting adults and get over it.

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Valjean O.
Valjean O7 years ago

YAY Hawaii

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Lisa R.
Lisa R7 years ago

Congrats Hawaii.

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Julie W.
Julie W7 years ago

I would still like to see, in detail, how same sex marriage can possibly affect anyone else's marriage. I have asked before, but no-one will explain it to me. Congrats Hawaii.

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Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson7 years ago

Good for you Hawaii!! At least one of our states knows what the phrase "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" means. The Tea Party nuts apparently haven't hit your shores yet!

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Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson7 years ago

Good for you Hawaii!! At least one of our states knows what the phrase "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" means. The Tea Party nuts apparently haven't hit your shores yet!

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Bryon S.
Bryon S7 years ago

I'm so happy we in Hawaii got rid of our Republican, closeted lesbian Governor whose politics were more important than her own and others' civil rights. Our new straight Governor has stated he would rather see gay marriage in Hawaii than civil unions. It's such a 180 degree turn for us. I'm very happy. Word to Obama...get rid of DOMA. It's blatant discrimination.

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