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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.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 17, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Sooner or later, and most likely sooner, a gay rights case will wind its way up to the SCOTUS. The issue will be the constitutionality of preventing two people of the same sex from getting married with all the bells and whistles that apply to opposite sex marriages. That case will be considered on the basis of equal protection and due process just as the California first and then the SCOTUS case that finally and justifiably outlawed miscegenation laws.

The issue is one of Justice recusal. If Elena Kagen is gay, which is not really an issue for her being nominated and confirmed, will she recuse herself from hearing and deciding that case when it comes?

At the end of the day, I believe three things are going to prove out.
1. Kagen will be confirmed.
2. The Case will arrive and Kagen will not recuse herself.
3. The Supreme Court will toss out as unconstitutional any State ban on full marital rights for those of the same sex to marry.
The right to marry the PERSON of one's choice is basic to the American way of life. The SCOTUS and California Supreme Court said so.

Posted by: LETFREEDOMRING2 | May 17, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

It's time.
Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
Washington, Connecticut, USA,
And kudos to CT for supporting marriage equality.

Posted by: cornetmustich | May 17, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The people of Hawaii have voiced their opinion many times. No on civil unions. If Gov Lingle signs or allows it to pass without a signature the people of Hawaii will get it on a ballot for a no vote again. If she vetos HB444 it will be the will of Hawaii's people not the special interest outside of Hawaii. Hawaii will not have civil unions inspite of the political maneauvers the politicians pulled to get HB444 passed. Those state represenatives will be remembered for their lack of integrity and likewise Gov Lingle will be remmebered for her will to Govern for the will of the Hawaiian people if she makes the clear choice in vetoing HB444. It's only time that delays the final nail in the coffin.

Posted by: rbgrrtt | May 17, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Quite frankly, I don't think there's a legal leg for people in opposition to same sex marriage to stand on. If you're allowing special rights and privileges to opposite sex couples, you should be allowing those same rights and privileges to same sex couples.

However, instead of putting the government umbrella over same sex unions, we should be pushing instead that it be removed from all unions.

Posted by: sullivanjc | May 18, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

If you think people should be able to marry whomever they wish - what about polygamy? Where do you stop?

Civil union, civil partnership, call it what you like, with all the duties, rights, and tax-breaks of marriage,that's fine, but only if you are not already married or in a civil union! But to call it marriage is like saying that New York is in California - just plain wrong.

Posted by: usti1925 | May 18, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

@usti1925 - What about polygamy? If consenting adults want to have that kind of relationship, why should that be *any* of your business from a legal standpoint?

Keep the government out of it. Let the individuals and religions decide what a "marriage" is.

Posted by: sullivanjc | May 18, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Just wanted to make clear...Hurley was trying to post a THUMBS down...not a THUMBS up on this article

Posted by: Happy10 | May 22, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

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