Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle today has vetoed HB444, a bill that would have allowed same-sex and opposite-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions. "It is essentially marriage by another name," Lingle said at a press conference in the last hour, echoing similar comments made in May. "Because it has the same rights, benefits, responsibilities and protections."
Lingle added that she did not support "same gender marriage" and called for a referendum. "It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual. This issue deserves to be decided by all the people of Hawaii."
The legislation passed the Hawaii House on April 29 by a 31–20 vote and the state Senate on Jan. 22 by an 18–7 vote. The Senate vote was enough to override a veto. The House vote was not and would need 34 votes to override. Apparently, there will be no veto session, reports The Star-Advertiser: "House leaders announced on Friday that they would not return for a one-day veto override session today. Senate leaders had said they were willing to return. The House's decision left the fate of the civil-unions bill solely in Lingle's hands for this year.
Evangelicals, social conservatives and the Hawaii Catholic Diocese have organized massive anti-gay demonstrations against the legislation. Lingle's devoutly Catholic and staunchly anti-gay Lt. Governor James "Duke" Aiona, who is running to succeed the governor, has slammed HB444 and promised a November voter referendum on civil unions if the bill were to become law.
These are Lingle's final months in office and signing the bill would have cost her nothing politically. The Republican governor is determined to ride out of office on a broom and leaves behind a legacy of intolerance.