Lambda Legal and ACLU ready lawsuit following veto of HB 444

July 6, 2010, 5:41 PM HST · Updated July 6, 5:41 PM
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Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai`i (ACLU) today expressed disappointment in Governor Linda Lingle’s decision today to veto House Bill 444 that would have given same sex couples similar legal responsibilities as legally married heterosexual couples. 

The two groups readied a lawsuit after the House tabled the Civil Unions bill in January.   The Hawai`i Senate had previously approved the bill by a veto-proof 18 to 7 majority and sent it back to the House for a conforming vote.

“This was a sad surrender to political expediency that does not support business or family interests, but damages them,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “We’re also disappointed that the Legislature opted to not override this veto immediately — we would have preferred to see couples win fair treatment through the political branch rather than having to pursue legal action.  However, we’re still ready to do what’s necessary so our clients can protect their loved ones,” said Pizer in a press release issued today.

“Luckily for the people of Hawai`i, however, our constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation.  If the Governor won’t honor her oath to uphold the constitution, the courts will,” said ACLU Staff Attorney Laurie Temple.

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Supporters of the bill say that although civil unions are a lesser status than marriage, they would provide protections and duties including access to family court for issues involving child support and alimony.

Coalition criticizes Lingle’s veto of HB 444

A coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations in Hawaii also denounced Governor Linda Lingle for vetoing HB 444, Hawaii’s Civil Union legislation.  Coalition members include Equality Hawaii, the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG-Oahu and Pride Alliance Hawaii.

“Today is a sad day for the thousands of Hawaii families who remain second class citizens,” said Alan Spector, legislative affairs co-chair for Equality Hawaii.  “We fail to see how the Governor’s actions are in the best interest of Hawaii’s future and are nothing more than political maneuvering at the expense of people’s lives. We’re disappointed and outraged that same-sex families will not be treated equally under Hawaii law, but vow to come back and fight this fight another day.”

“Americans nationwide share in the disappointment and outrage of thousands of Hawaii’s families who will not receive equal treatment under law,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Thankfully, there are local advocates as well as leaders in the Hawaii legislature who will continue to further the cause of equality. For decades, we have been a loyal partner in this fight for fairness in the Aloha State and we pledge to stand with them for years to come.”

“Today, on July 6, 2010, Gov. Linda Lingle denied social justice when she vetoed HB444 for Civil Unions,” said Rev. Carolyn M. Golojuch, President of PFLAG-Oahu.  “Her denial is a violation of the integrity of her office and a violation of her oath of office.  Governor Lingle’s denial of equal rights, benefits and protections for one segment of our citizens is a denial for all of our citizens of Hawaii.”

“The members of Pride Alliance Hawaii are greatly disappointed in Governor Lingle’s decision to veto the Civil Unions bill and allow the state to continue its discriminatory practices against same-sex couples,” said Tara O’Neill, President of Pride Alliance Hawaii.  “Two separate and independent economic studies, a poll conducted by a nationally recognized polling organization, and the thousands of residents who vocalized their support of the bill to the Governor and the Legislature over the past two years makes clear that the passage of HB444 is good economic sense, is socially just, and is supported by the people of Hawaii.  The LGBT community’s fight for equality in Hawaii will continue.”

There are currently five states and the District of Columbia that recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  Five states—California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada—provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

*** The governor’s comments regarding HB 444 and her reasons for vetoing the measure were posted in a previous story at the following link:  http://mauinow.com/2010/07/06/governor-veotes-controversial-civil-unions-bill/

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