Hawaiian governor vetoes civil unions bill

Liz Goodwin

Hawaiian GOP Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have permitted same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"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," Lingle said at a news conference announcing the veto.

Hundreds of opponents of the bill (some of whom are shown in the photo) "roared" when word of the veto reached them outside of the state Capitol, according to the paper.

Lingle wants the measure put to a public vote in 2012. Gay-rights advocates argue that basic issues of civil rights should never be put to a public vote. Past civil rights breakthroughs, such as the desegregation of public schools, would never have survived referendum votes at the time, they contend. (Past ballot ballot measures to legalize gay marriage — representing a more legally expansive recognition of the equality of gay couples than the Hawaii bill would have — have been defeated in at least 31 states.)

Five states and Washington allow same-sex couples to marry, though other states do not have to recognize the unions. Another five states provide almost all the same rights as married couples to same-sex couples who enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.