Hawaii gover­nor ve­toes same-sex civil unions

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

HONOLULU — Hawaii’s gover­nor on Tues­day ve­toed leg­is­la­tion that would have per­mit­ted same-sex civil unions, end­ing weeks of spec­u­la­tion on how she would weigh in on the con­tentious, emo­tional de­bate.

Repub­li­can Gov. Linda Lin­gle’s ac­tion came on the fi­nal day she had to ei­ther sign or veto the bill, which the Hawaii Leg­is­la­ture passed in late April.

“I have been open and con­sis­tent in my op­po­si­tion to same-sex mar­riage, and find that House Bill 444 is es­sen­tially same-sex mar­riage by an­other name,” Lin­gle said.

Had Lin­gle not ve­toed it, the mea­sure would have granted gay and les­bian cou­ples the same rights and ben­e­fits that the state pro­vides to mar­ried cou­ples. It also would have made Hawaii one of six states that es­sen­tially grant the rights of mar­riage to same­sex cou­ples with­out au­tho­riz­ing mar­riage it­self. Five other states and the District of Columbia per­mit same-sex mar­riage.

Dozens of sup­port­ers had gath­ered for a day­long vigil. Some waved flags and held signs along a busy street.

“I want to be able to get mar­ried,” said El­iz­a­beth Kline, a 22-year-old Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii stu­dent who quickly cor­rected her­self to say she wants a civil union. “It’s not mar­riage, but it’s a step to­ward it.”

Mean­while, a group of about 20 op­po­nents of civil unions raised their hands, closed their eyes and said bless­ings in front of the of­fice doors of key law­mak­ers.

“All we’re do­ing is pray­ing. We’re not wav­ing signs or play­ing mu­sic,” like gay rights groups in the ro­tunda, said Den­nis Arakaki, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Hawaii Fam­ily Fo­rum.

About 60 per­cent of the more than 34,000 letters, phone calls, e-mails and other com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the pub­lic to Lin­gle asked her to veto the bill, the gover­nor’s aides said.

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