When the Hawai‘i House of Representatives tabled House Bill 444 (HB444) earlier this year, supporters of equal rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, were left agitated due to indecision. Many put to rest hopes for progress regarding the civil rights issue, yet in an astonishing turn of events, the House voted 31–20 to pass the civil unions bill in the last moments of deliberation.
The bill’s fate is now in the hands of our state leader, Gov. Linda Lingle, who has remained curiously mute regarding her stance of the ardent bill. However, her “right-hand man,” Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, has no qualms about revealing opinions. The religious statesman said the “State House’s last-minute political maneuvering is unfortunate for the people of Hawai‘i who have voiced their support for traditional marriage.”
Among Maui lawmakers, State Rep. Joe Souki, a practicing Catholic, stood alone in opposition of the bill’s 11th hour, citing his decision was a “personal thing.”
Legislative decision-making based on religious interpretations is unjust. HB444 is not religion-based at all, and regardless of spiritual beliefs, marriage is a contract made between couples at the state level—the church ceremony is a separate form of marital commitment.
The very citizens who “pay their dues” are discriminated against due to sexual orientation even though today’s families and couples exist in all forms, with variant traditions. Although the struggle for gay marriage legality continues, signing HB444 into a law will be a significant step for all familial conventions and is a societal advantage overall.
After a topsy-turvy term of policymaking, the governor has an opportunity to leave office with a progressive legacy that supports liberty and justice for all. Although some say it could mean “political suicide” for her, I urge her to commit it.
She has until July 6 to sign, veto or allow the bill to move forward without her signature.
It’s your democratic privilege to send Gov. Lingle a message asking her to sign, or veto, this piece of historic legislation into law. Contact the Constituent Services at (808) 586-0221 or (808) 586-0222. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, and contact the Governor’s Office at (808) 586-0034.
Enacting this past-due legislation would mean eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of equality.