When Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a bill that would have allowed gay and straight couples to enter civil unions yesterday, she said in her prepared remarks, "I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-gender marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially marriage by another name."
From the pop quiz section of the press conference, Hawaii Blog reports this exchange:
Q: Can you explain why you think gay marriage is synonymous with civil unions? That seems to be what you're saying.
A: No, I'm saying I think HB444, because of its plain language, is essentially the same. Because it has the same rights, responsibilities, benefits, and protections.
So civil unions are the same, or essentially the same thing as marriage, and that's why it's wrong. In California, of course, civil unions are said to be nearly the same thing as marriage, and that's why those rites (and rights) are supposed to make everyone happy and satisfied.
Now Gov. Lingle says she wants to see the question put before state voters -- an easy proposition for an opponent of marriage quality to make. "It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials," she says. Unless that one individual happens to be Linda Lingle.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal are suing. In 1998, Hawaii voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that allowed the legislature to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, by nearly 70 percent. Hawaii's constitution also forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and it's in the very narrow space between those two concepts that the ACLU and Lambda Legal will challenge the state.