Governor vetoes controversial Civil Unions Bill

July 6, 2010, 3:21 PM HST · Updated July 6, 7:12 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Governor Linda Lingle today vetoed the controversial Civil Unions bill saying the decision, “should be made by all of the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth.”

“After months of listening to Hawaii’s citizens express to me in writing and in person, their deeply held beliefs, and heartfelt reasons for supporting or opposing the Civil Unions bill, I have made the decision to veto House Bill 444,” said Gov. Lingle before an invitation only crowd at the State Capitol that included state legislators, cabinet members and both opponents and supporters of the measure. 

“I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-gender marriage and find that House Bill 444 is essentially marriage by another name,” said Lingle. She continued, “However, I want to be clear, that my personal opinion is not the basis for my decision against allowing this legislation to become law.”

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“Neither is my veto based on my religious beliefs or the political impact it might have on me or anyone else of either political party in some future election,” said Lingle.

“I am vetoing this bill because I have become convinced that this issue is of such societal importance that it deserves to be decided by all the people of Hawaii,” said Lingle. 

Lingle said the subject of this Legislation has, “touched the hearts and minds of our citizens as no other social issue of our day.”  She said, “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.”

“While ours is a system of representative government, it is also is one that recognizes from time there are issues that require the reflection, collective wisdom and consent of the people, and reserves to them the right to directly decide those matters.  This is one such issue,” said Lingle.

Lingle said there has not been a bill that she has contemplated more or an issue she has thought more deeply about during her nearly eight years as governor as House Bill 444, and the institution of marriage. 

“After listening to those both for and against House Bill 444, I have gained a new appreciation for just how deeply people of all ages and backgrounds feel on this matter, and how significantly they believe the issue will affect their lives,” said Lingle.

“In addition to meeting in person with citizens of differing opinions, I have read legal memos on both sides of this issue–some urging me to veto the bill because of unintended consequences and guaranteed years of court battles, while others urged support for what they consider a legally sound bill that grants long overdue civil rights,” said Lingle.  “But in the end,” said Lingle, “it wasn’t the persuasiveness of public debates, the soundness of legal arguments, or the volume of letters and emails that convinced me to reach this decision.”

“It was the depth of emotion felt by those on both sides of the issue,” said Lingle, “that revealed to me how fundamental the institution of marriage is to our community.  It is as fundamental to those who support marriage between two people of the same gender as it is to those who support marriage only between one man and one woman.”

“This is a decision that should not be made by one person sitting in her office, or by members of the majority party behind closed doors in a legislative caucus, but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth,” said Lingle.

Lingle said she is comfortable with her decision, while “knowing full well that many will be disappointed by it.”

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