Monday, January 18, 2010

Next Same-sex Battleground is Hawaii

Thousands of people filled the state Capitol yesterday with prayer and song, a celebration of traditional values laced with an explicit warning to state lawmakers to preserve marriage as between a man and a woman.

-- From "Civil unions may get quick vote at Hawaii Capitol" by Herbert A. Sample, Associated Press 1/16/10

When Hawaii legislators reconvene on Wednesday, all eyes will be focused not on teacher furloughs that resulted in the nation's shortest school year or the state's $1 billion budget deficit, but legislation that would allow same-sex couples to form civil unions [HB 444].

Last year, the proposal
easily won preliminary passage in the Legislature, but stalled in May after opponents lobbied and held a state Capitol rally attended by several thousand protesters.

No independent polls or surveys have been conducted on the issue, so it's difficult to measure public sentiment. The last time voters directly weighed in on a related issue was in 1998 when 70 percent approved a constitutional amendment allowing the Legislature to reserve marriage for opposite sex couples.

In Hawaii, the measure would expand the state's existing reciprocal beneficiaries law by granting to unmarried same- and opposite-gender couples all of the rights and benefits the state provides to married couples. It is similar to broad civil union or domestic partnership laws in California, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and New Jersey.

Supporters voice guarded confidence that the bill, pending in the Senate since May, still enjoys majority support in both chambers.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Thousands rally in Hawaii against same-sex civil unions bill" by Derrick DePledge, Honolulu Advertiser, Government Writer 1/18/10

The rally, sponsored by the Hawaii Family Forum, was intended to energize religious conservatives to vote and influence the September primary and November general election. But it was also a demonstration of the potential backlash lawmakers face if they move forward with civil unions.

Many at the rally yesterday made no distinction between civil unions and marriage, even though the bill does not redefine marriage, which under state law is between a man and a woman.

Father Marc Alexander, of the Diocese of Honolulu, said the rally showed that people of different faiths and racial and ethnic backgrounds are united.

At St. Clement's Episcopal Church, meanwhile, more than 100 people representing 13 different religious groups came together in support of equal rights for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.