Approving a law that recognizes gay and
lesbian couples with civil unions would have a minimal impact on
Hawaii's economy and government, a new study concludes.
The paper, which was authored by two
University of Hawaii economists, Summer La Croix and Kimberly
Burnett, found that the law would have an insignificant effect on
tourism, state government revenues and spending and employer health
insurance for civil union partners and their dependents.
“We concluded that the legalization
of civil unions in Hawaii will have only a very minimal impact on any
aspect of Hawaii's economy and state government operations,” La
Croix and Burnett wrote.
Lawmakers approved the civil unions
bill last month. Governor Linda Lingle must decide whether she'll
sign the bill into law or veto it by June 22, the day she'll inform
lawmakers about which measures she's planning to reject.
“The bill is a civil rights measure
and should be decided on that moral basis, not on any perceived
financial risk or benefit that passage poses for the state,” the
Star Bulletin wrote in an editorial Friday.
The new study, however, should please
Lingle's Republican ideals of fiscal responsibility. Opponents
of gay rights who met with the governor on Monday said they
believe she'll focus on the bill's “technicalities.”
Lingle said in 2002 that she would not
veto a bill that recognizes gay couples with domestic partnerships,
but she has also described civil unions as gay marriage in disguise.
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.”
La Croix and Burnett also believe that
the state will likely see a small gain in state revenues due to civil
union registration fees, excise taxes and state income taxes and a $7
million annual jump in tourism.