Republicans have approved a resolution
calling on Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle to veto a bill that
recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions. Lingle has
less than five weeks to decide on the bill's future.
The resolution was approved by Hawaii
Republican Party delegates attending the party's annual convention
Saturday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, the Honolulu
At the convention, delegates wore red
stickers that read “Veto HB444,” the civil unions bill.
The resolution calls on Lingle to
protect marriage as a heterosexual institution and describes civil
unions as “same-sex marriage in disguise or merely by another
While “equal rights are guaranteed no
matter a person's gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, no
such guarantee exists for the institution of marriage,” the
Republican resolution states.
During a break from the convention
floor, Lingle said the bill approved by lawmakers was gay marriage
without the name.
“It does appear to me on reading it,
that it really is same-sex marriage, but by a different name,” she
told reporters. “But I want to wait and hear people out.”
She also made it clear that she does
not believe domestic partnerships are similar to marriage, an
important distinction because as a candidate for governor Lingle
promised she'd sign such a measure.
During a televised debate eight years
ago, Lingle said: “On the issue of domestic partnerships, I have
stated that if the Legislature [should] pass legislation granting
certain rights I would not veto that legislation.”
The Republican governor, however, has
remained mum on the issue of civil unions. And has chided lawmakers
for not focusing on the economy during the current session.
The bill – sponsored by openly
gay House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro – was left for dead last
January when lawmakers voted to shelve it after senators had
overwhelmingly approved the measure. But on the last day of the
legislative session Oshiro made a motion to bring it back.
Representatives then voted in favor of the measure in a 31-to-20
But while the Senate's approval was
veto-proof, House members fell short by 3 votes. That leaves Lingle
the final arbiter on whether the state will recognize gay unions or
not. She has 45 days to decide whether to sign the bill, veto it or
allow it to become law without her signature. Officially that's July
6, but she'll need to make up her mind in less than five weeks. On
June 22, she'll inform lawmakers about which bills she is planning to
If approved, Hawaii would join New
Jersey in recognizing gay couples with civil unions. Other states –
including Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California – offer gay
couples many of the rights and obligations of marriage with domestic
partnerships. Five mostly New England states – Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Iowa – and the District
of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Two states, New York and
Maryland, recognize gay marriages performed outside their borders.