In a highly anticipated announcement, Hawaii’s Governor Linda Lingle vetoed the civil union bill, as the definition of a union it contains was too similar to that of marriage. The law would have allowed gay and lesbian-identified couples the same rights and privileges of married couples.
In her veto message, Lingle stated that an issue as contentious as this should not be up to one person to decide.
The liberal blog, Huffington Post, had promoted this decision as “mission critical,” so this announcement was a devastating blow to gay activists. They immediately called for a boycott.
Twenty-two legislators broke into the state House in order to reconvene and override the governor’s veto. However, their efforts failed as both chambers were unable to secure enough votes to reconvene. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are preparing to file a lawsuit. The Hawaii Family Forum sent out an e-mail the day after the veto, urging people to register to vote for the November election.
On April 29, the Hawaii Legislature unexpectedly revived the bill on the last day of the session and was able to get it passed by a vote of 31-20. The Senate passed its version at the start of the legislative session.
For the past few months, tensions have run high, as supporters on both sides attempted to persuade the governor to see their position. Gay activists reportedly delivered 7,500 letters, postcards, and petition signatures in favor of civil unions. Nevertheless, 60 percent of the letters and e-mails urged the governor to veto the measure.
Currently, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, while Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.