Left Reels After Hawaii Governor Vetoes Gay Civil Unions Bill

Outgoing Republican Gov. Laura Lingle rejects the bill as "marriage by another name"

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In April, the Hawaii House passed a bill granting civil union privileges to same-sex couples. On Tuesday, outgoing Hawaii Governor Laura Lingle, a Republican, vetoed the measure, arguing that the legislation created "marriage by another name" and should be placed before voters. Hawaii has seen fierce debates over gay marriage in the past, with the state supreme court overturning a ban in 1993, and voters amending the constitution in 1998 to permit a gay marriage ban once again. The Hawaii ACLU and Lambda Legal have announced plans to sue the state. Meanwhile, outrage over the measure has swept the left-leaning blogosphere. Here's why:

  • Lingle Disingenuous?  Matthew Rettenmund of gay-rights blog Towelroad fumes, "While she states her veto has nothing to do with her personal position against 'same-gender marriage' (her term) or political considerations, she also takes the opportunity to slam the Democratic-led legislature for forcing her hand. A farce."
  • Will Be Remembered for Thwarting Key Bill  Michael A. Jones of the Gay Rights blog at Change.org doesn't hold back. "Let this be the legacy of Gov. Linda Lingle. Given the opportunity to fix a discriminatory law that clearly treats gays and lesbians differently and denies them many benefits, Gov. Lingle chose to stand on the side of inequality and intolerance. And she should be remembered as the Governor that could have moved Hawaii an inch closer toward equal rights, but instead deflected on a major civil rights issue."
  • Not Really 'Marriage by Another Name'  Igor Volsky of left-leaning Think Progress responds to Lingle's statement equating the bill with "marriage by another name." In a measured analysis, he writes that "Lingle's statements are somewhat confounding, however, since the civil union legislation is not the same as marriage nor does it actually re-define marriage. Unlike marriage, civil unions are only recognized in the state in which they are performed and couples do not carry the benefits of civil unions across state lines. Couples united in a civil union have no access to the more than 1,000 federal rights, which, incidentally are still denied to same-sex married couples under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Currently, five states have civil union laws and five, plus DC recognize same-sex marriages."
  • Civil Rights Not Fit for Referendum  Dante Atkins of the Daily Kos notes that past measures might have failed if put to popular vote: "Yes, every single decision on civil rights ought to be made by the voters. Hence, Lyndon Baines Johnson put the civil rights act up for a national referendum, and whether Charles Loving could get married was subject to the approval of the voters of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Right? That's why the suffragettes were perfectly content to let the fate of their cause rest in the men who could vote, and poll taxes were left up to the people who had no problem paying them. Because lord knows, we don't elect people to make decisions like this. We elect them to enjoy a nice, official desk and title while we still have to make the decisions that they're too afraid of."
  • Lingle's Turnaround David Dayen of Firedoglake goes into the history. "Eight years ago, before Lingle was elected to her first term, she promised to sign a civil unions bill. She hemmed and hawed until the very last minute with this legislation, however, and ultimately went back on that promise. Her comment that the bill constituted "same sex marriage with a different name" is pretty much the point. Polling has shown the public more comfortable with the phrase civil unions than marriage, which connotes certain traditional tropes about family."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.