Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle should sign civil unions bill
I praised Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) last week for not pandering to "birthers" and signing a law that squashed their numerous requests for President Obama's birth certificate. But now it looks like I found an issue that the term-limited Lingle is in danger of using to pander to her base, thus keeping her political options open for a future run for office: same-sex marriage.
During a 2002 debate when she was a candidate for governor, 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."
Well, the legislature did just that late last month. And, so far, Lingle hasn't taken action. In fact, the governor seems a bit all over the place.
At the state Republican Party's convention this past weekend, Lingle expressed concern about HB 444, which "extends the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union." Lingle said, "I did have a chance to read the bill and it does appear to me, on reading it, that it really is same-sex marriage, but by a different name." But she also said, "I want to wait and hear people out. I'll also say that I've gone back and forth as people have written in to me -- people I respect a lot."
Lingle has meetings set up with advocates on both sides of this issue. She doesn't have a whole lot of time, though. She has until July 6 to veto the bill, but must inform the legislature of her decision to do so by June 22. If the civil unions bill is not on the list, it will become law with or without her signature.
Gay marriage burst onto the American political radar and put the Aloha State at the forefront of a national debate in 1993, when the Hawaiian Supreme Court ruled that there was no compelling state interest in denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Since then, either by court order or by proactive legislation, same-sex marriage is now legal in five states and the District of Columbia. Another five states have approved domestic partnerships or civil unions.
Making HB 444 the law in Hawaii wouldn't make Lingle a radical. It would put her in a growing mainstream. It would put her on the right side of history. And it would confirm her as a leader -- which is how any aspirant for future elective office should want to be viewed.
| May 17, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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