Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle met Monday
with opponents of a bill that would recognize gay and lesbian couples
with civil unions, the local ABC affiliate KITV reported.
Lingle has less than four weeks to
decide whether she'll sign the bill into law or veto it. Lawmakers
approved the law last month, but House members fell 3 votes short of
a veto-proof majority.
About three dozen gay rights opponents
were shuffled into a two-hour private meeting with Lingle. The
governor is scheduled to meet with supporters of the measure on
Attending the meeting was Lt. Gov.
James “Duke” Aiona, who opposes the legislation.
Opposition to the bill has been led by
the Hawaii Christian Coalition, whose leader, Garret Hashimoto, was
among those meeting with the governor. Members of the group joined
other opponents in holding a prayer circle outside the Capitol as the
meeting took place.
Hashimoto told the television network
that he believes Lingle will focus on how the bill would impact the
“Knowing the governor, she would want
to focus on the bill itself; the legalities and technicalities,” he
Earlier in the month, Republicans
meeting at their party's annual state convention approved a
resolution calling on Lingle to veto the bill. The resolution
urged Lingle to protect marriage as a heterosexual union and
described civil unions as “same-sex marriage in disguise or merely
by another name.”
Lingle has since said that the bill is
gay marriage without the name.
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 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
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.