Hawaii House of Representatives Passes Civil Unions Bill

Aloha and Happy Saturday, Blenders! There is exciting news out of Hawaii to kick off the weekend. SB232, which establishes Civil Unions, passed its third and final reading yesterday in the Hawaii State House of Representatives by a vote of 31-19.

Usually not at a loss for words, Alan Spector needed a moment to compose himself before reacting to yesterday's vote by the state House of Representatives to legalize civil unions in Hawaii.

Spector was among about two dozen supporters of the civil-unions bill who quietly celebrated in the Capitol courtyard following the House vote — an outcome that was as emotional as it was expected.

“This shows that persistence pays off,” said Spector, co-chairman of Equality Hawaii. “This is a great day for Hawaii.”

The YES votes were Reps. Belatti, Brower, Carroll, Coffman, Evans, Hanohano, Hashem, Herkes, Ichiyama, Ito, Jordan, Keith-Agaran, Chris Lee, Marilyn Lee, Luke, Marumoto, McKelvey, Morikawa, Morita, Nakashima, Nishimoto, Blake Oshiro, Marcus Oshiro, Pono, Rhoads, Saiki, Speaker Say, Takumi, Thielen, Wooley, and Yamashita.

The NO votes were Reps. Aquino, Awana, Chang, Ching, Choy, Cullen, Fontaine, Har, Johanson, Manahan, Mizuno, Pine, Riviere, Souki, Takai, Tokioka, Tsuji, Ward, and Yamane.

Rep. Cabanilla was excused from the final vote.

Because an amendment was added to SB232, it must go back to the Senate for a final vote before going to Gov. Abercrombie's desk. According to Hawaii Pride Alliance's Van Law, “The House made a clarifying amendment per recommendation from the Attorney General's office. It clarifies that state tax laws applies to married couples and civil union couples in the same way. Now the Senate has to vote to accept that change, which the Senate Judiciary Chair has indicated they should without much debate.”

“If everything looks OK, we'll probably just do our vote in the early part of the week,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului).

“There is a commitment” to moving quickly, said Sen. Brickwood Galuteria (D, Downtown-Waikiki), Senate majority leader.

Civil Unions isn't the only bill in play for the LGBT community during this legislative session. HB546 would codify employment nondiscrimination based on gender identity or expression. Currently GI is a protected class in housing and public accomodation. HB546 passed out of the House Committee on Labor, and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing by the Judiciary Committee.

The other bill is SB934, which deals with issues of bullying. The bill was heard on February 9th by the Senate Committee on Education, and passed out of committe by a vote of 5-0, 1 excused. SB934 specifically lists sexual orientation and gender identity in its text.

“Bullying” or “cyberbullying” means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication including but not limited to a communication shown to be motivated by a student's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability, gender, gender identity and expression, or other distinguishing personal characteristic…

Congratulations to all those working for equality in Hawaii, including Pride Alliance, Equality Hawaii, Unite Here Local 5, PFLAG, Da Moms, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the interfaith community, and all those in the a'ina who have come out in support of equal rights.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Hawaii Passes Civil Unions

HAWAII FLAG X390 (WIKI) | ADVOCATE.COMThe Hawaii house of representatives passed a bill Friday to legalize
civil unions in the state after more than a decade of contentious debate
with a 31-19, the Associated Press reports.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

HAWAII: Civil Unions Pass In House!

The Hawaii House has just approved its civil unions bill by a vote of 31-19!

The bill now goes back to the Senate, which passed a similar version of the measure last month. If the Senate agrees to changes in the bill made by the House, the measure would go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions legislation. Senate Bill 232 would grant same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into a civil union with all of the rights, protections, benefits and responsibilities of traditional marriage.

The House changes — recommended by the state Attorney General’s Office — clarify that because civil unions will not be recognized under federal law, certain provisions of the Internal Revenue Code that apply to husbands and wives in Hawaii would apply with the same force and effect to partners in civil unions. Family Court will also have jurisdiction in matters of annulment, divorce and separation in civil unions, as the court does over marriages.

Just one more step!

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Hawaii passes Gay Civil Unions bill in House vote!

Joe posted earlier, “Things are moving fast for the civil unions bill in Hawaii. The Senate already passed the legislation. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved it. Next stop, the House floor — and that will happen soon:”

It happened!

State House members approved a proposal today to legalize civil unions in Hawaii.

Members approved the proposal by a 31-19 vote. One member, Rep. Rida Cabanilla, was absent.

The bill now goes back to the Senate, which passed a similar version of the measure last month. If the Senate agrees to changes in the bill made by the House, the measure would go to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who supports civil unions legislation.

The stain FOREVER remains on Linda Lingle’s legacy.


—  David Taffet

Progress begins in Hawaii on civil unions bill

In July of 2010, Hawaii’s then-Governor, Linda Lingle, who has been married and divorce twice, vetoed civil unions legislation. Fortunately, the state has a new Governor, Neil Abercrombie, who supports equality. In both the Democratic primary and the general election, Abercrombie was unequivocal in his support for civil unions — against opponents who would do what would Lingle did. Now, they call him Governor Abercrombie.

Equality Hawaii reports that the process to pass the civil unions bill in the new session has begun:

The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee passed SB232 SD1, Hawaii’s new civil unions bill, by a 3-2 vote Tues., Jan. 25.

Equality Hawaii thanks Sens. Clayton Hee, Maile Shimabukuro and Les Ihara, Jr., who voted in favor of the measure.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for a second and third reading. The second reading is slated for Jan. 26 with the final reading anticipated Fri., Jan. 28.

Good work, Equality Hawaii.


—  admin

Wyoming House Passes Ban on Recognition of Same-Sex Unions

Wyoming's HB 74 passed the House on its third reading Monday. The bill bans recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from outside the state:

Wyoming House Bill 74 now heads to the Senate, where its chances for passage appear good.

State Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Mountain View, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is needed to resolve a conflict in Wyoming law, which defines marriage as a contract "between a male and a female person" but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state. Other supporters have said the bill will help to hold back government intrusion into Wyoming traditions and culture.

Opponents said the bill is unnecessary, violates the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, and would create havoc for legally married out-of-state gay couples traveling in Wyoming.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Do Civil Unions Have a Chance in Wyoming?

Despite the advancement of a bill that would prohibit Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, and a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, could there be support for a civil union law?

The Star Tribune seems to think so: Protest_wyoming

Many legislators who voted earlier this week in favor of House Bill 74, which prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages from out of state, have said they see civil unions as an acceptable compromise. And while Gov. Matt Mead said he believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman, he wouldn’t rule out supporting civil union legislation should it reach his desk.

"I’m getting a stronger sense that civil unions will pass," said state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, a supporter of gay marriage.

This week, the House Judiciary Committee will take up legislation to establish civil unions in Wyoming that would give same-sex couples in the state the same legal rights and benefits as married couples. The bill, House Bill 150, appears to have the votes to pass the Judiciary Committee.

State Rep. Cathy Connolly, the Laramie Democrat who’s sponsoring HB150, said she’s "very optimistic" the bill will pass the full House, as many gay marriage opponents have said they support civil unions.

On Friday, the Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation by a 3-2 vote that would ban same-sex marriage in the state. However, before the vote they amended the legislation to potentially allow for civil unions.

Protests took place on Friday and Saturday, objecting to HB 74.

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

New Opportunity to Pass Civil Unions in Hawaii

Today, the Hawaii state legislature opens their 2011-12 legislative session at the state capitol in Honolulu.  They will have many important issues to address, but we need to send a strong message that LGBT civil rights should be among the highest of priorities. If you’re a Hawaii resident, please send a message to your legislators urging them to act swiftly to pass civil unions!

The time is now to finally end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Aloha State, and to treat ALL families in Hawaii with the same dignity and respect. No child of a same-gendered family should have to grow up thinking their family is somehow less loving or legitimate than their straight counterparts.

As we’ve done three times in the past two years, HRC is sending staff to Hawaii to help with the legislative effort and to mobilize HRC’s members, supporters and allies. I will work with Equality Hawaii and the broad coalition of local organizations and volunteers to finally pass this bill.

If you’d like to help with the campaign for equality in Hawaii, please email me at tony.wagner@hrc.org.

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Maryland’s GOP Senate leader quits after backlash over his support for civil unions

While 2010 was a banner year for GOPers around the country, the elections were a disaster for Republicans in Maryland. The pro-marriage Governor, Martin O’Malley, was reelected by a wide margin, defeating the anti-marriage former Governor, Bob Ehrlich. In this legislative session, there are only 11 Republicans in the 47-seat State Senate and 43 Delegates out of 141 seats in the House.

A couple weeks ago, their leader in the State Senate, Allan Kittelman, announced that he was sponsoring a civil unions bill that would cover straight and same-sex couples. That was a bold step to show that all GOPers weren’t homophobes. Didn’t work. Yesterday, Kittelman gave up his leadership post. GOPers in Maryland do want to be homophobes:

The ranking Republican in the Maryland Senate surprised his colleagues and the GOP establishment Tuesday when he announced that he will step down as minority leader because it had become apparent his colleagues did not want a “social moderate” as their leader.

The decision by Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard County) came two weeks after he announced plans to sponsor legislation allowing civil unions in Maryland for both same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Kittleman’s position put him at odds with many Republican colleagues, who told him during a closed-door meeting last week that they were distressed by his civil-unions bill and would not be supporting the legislation, according to participants.

Kittleman’s civil union bill wasn’t going to pass. But, the GOP caucus couldn’t even go there. Their homophobia is too entrenched. Full marriage equality is probably to pass in Maryland this year, but face a referendum in 2012.


—  admin

NH’s Smith misplaces ‘protect marriage’ playbook, admits he wants civil unions gone too

When the effort to repeal marriage equality in New Hampshire starts heating up, you’re going to hear all kinds of people saying that the rollback is all about the institution of marriage — nothing more, nothing less. DON’T. BUY. THAT. LIE. FOR. EVEN. A. SECOND. Because here’s the state’s “pro-family” leader, Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Policy Research (a major NOM ally), full-out admitting his desire to not only roll back same-sex marriages, but also the basic protections that come with the prior civil unions compromise:

Ultimately what we’d like to see is it revert back to what it was prior to civil unions,

and that you just had a marriage statute and not to mess with that in any way”

-Kevin Smith, Cornerstone Action


( click to play audio clip)

*AUDIO SOURCE: New Hampshire May Repeal Gay Marriage [Focus on the Family CitizenLink]

Hey Kevin: Point to even one mess — EVEN. ONE. MESS. — that the inclusive marriage system (much less the prior civil unions system) has brought to the Live Free or Die State. You won’t. Because you can’t.

But you keep on admitting that it’s the basic rights and protection you’re really gunning. Our public opinion polls stiffen up just listening to it.


*UPDATE: Oh, it goes even further: Exclusive: New Hampshire’s leading ‘protect marriage’ group pushing gay ‘cures’ [G-A-Y]

Good As You

—  admin