Last night, Republican Governor Linda Lingle broke a promise and dismissed the will of Hawaiian citizens as she vetoed HB 444, which would have allowed both same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions with all the rights enjoyed by married couples.
Michael Sargeant, Executive Director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, issued the following statement in response to Governor Lingle’s veto of the civil union bill:
“We at the DLCC are disappointed in Governor Lingle for ignoring the will of Hawaiian citizens as expressed by the Hawaii legislature’s passage of this landmark legislation. Governor Lingle also broke her campaign promise not to veto a civil union bill if passed by the state legislature. She has denied Hawaii the opportunity to become the latest example of states leading the way on equality.”
Vetoing the legislation broke a promise Lingle made in her first campaign for governor in 2002.
It was during a live debate broadcast on PBS Hawaii that Lingle was asked by moderator Linda Taira about her position on the arrangements for gay couples with rights such as family and bereavement leaves, probate rights and hospital visitation.
“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,” Lingle said [emphasis added].
Democratic legislators did their part and voted their conscience on “that legislation,” after a marathon 18 hours of earnest debate. But their work was undone by the Governor’s broken promise.
And in breaking her promise, Governor Lingle denied hundreds of thousands of her own citizens a right she probably takes for granted.
The Governor’s veto is a sad setback in the ongoing fight for equality. But that fight continues.
One day, America will look back on the struggle for equal rights and wonder why it was so difficult. Governor Lingle will be one of the reasons.