Gay and civil rights groups reacting to
the news that Hawaii
Governor Linda Lingle has vetoed a bill that would have recognized
gay couples with civil unions have announced they will sue the
Lambda Legal and the American Civil
Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU) shelved plans to sue the state in
January after lawmakers revived – and eventually approved – the
civil unions bill. But with Lingle's veto, the groups say they will
proceed with their challenge.
“This was a sad surrender to
political expediency that does not support business or family
interests, but damages them,” Jennifer C. Pizer, national marriage
project director for Lambda Legal, said in a release. “In caving
in to a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign mounted by the
bill's opponents, Governor Lingle has abandoned thousands of Hawaii
families who have needed this bill's protections for many years.”
Lambda Legal won a 1993 Hawaii Supreme
Court case that struck down a law that limited marriage to
heterosexual couples. But in approving the nation's first
constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a heterosexual
union, voters overturned the decision in 1998.
The amendment leaves the door open for
other forms of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples such as
civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Eight years ago, while campaigning for
governor, Lingle said she would not veto a bill that creates domestic
partnerships for gay couples.
The Hawaii Legislature has considered a
civil unions bill every year since 2001.
“We're obviously disappointed that
Governor Lingle has, once again, used her power to deny the people of
Hawaii their civil rights,” Laurie Temple, staff attorney for the
ACLU, said. “Luckily for the people of Hawaii, however, our
constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation. If
the governor won't honor her oath to uphold the constitution, the