The business of civil unions

Just when I think the Business Roundtable’s brush with HB 444 couldn’t get any more bizarre, it does.

The Roundtable went from a June 4 letter to Gov. Linda Lingle urging her to veto the civil unions measure, to a statement late week that the executive committee stood by the recommendation despite deepening dissent among members like Time Warner, Marriott, Foodland, Starwood and Alexander & Baldwin, to a second letter to Lingle this week doing some serious backtracking.

“Unfortunately, the use of the word veto has become equivalent to some, as a position against civil unions,” wrote executive director Gary K. Kai.

That’s right up there with Bill Clinton saying it all depends on what you mean by “is.”

So in a few weeks, the headline has gone from “Top businesses oppose civil unions” to “Top businesses are divided on civil unions” to “Top businesses rally behind civil unions.”

The Roundtable, which represents 44 of Hawai’i’s biggest companies, has always been one of our most respected business groups, with views on public policy issues that have carried much weight.

But the group comes out of this fiasco looking like babbling idiots on civil unions and with its overall credibility greatly tarnished. Its attempt to provide guidance has provided only an embarrassing distraction from which the governor can take no guidance.

On the other side of the ball, gay rights groups like Citizens for Equal Rights, the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG-Oahu and Equality Hawaii did a masterful job of turning the Roundtable by putting individual member companies on the spot, serving warning that they’ve matured into a potent political force not to be messed with.

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36 Comments on “The business of civil unions”

  1. Alan R. Spector Says:

    Thanks Dave for your excellent post and great assessment. HBR presented us with a great opportunity to mobilize and turn this around. In addition to the groups mentioned in your above posting, we should also mention that Pride Alliance Hawaii and GLBT Caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party were equal partners in this effort as were countless people acting on their own behalf as individual consumers. Additionally, a group of approximately 40 small and medium sized businesses have signed onto a separate Equality Hawaii – HRC sponsored letter endorsing HB444.

  2. Mike Middlesworth Says:

    Stick your finger in your mouth, then hold it up to see which way the wind is blowing….

  3. Kolea Says:

    I’ll probably get you in trouble by praising you for an excellent commentary, but you got my praise nonetheless.

    I agree BRT has damaged their credibility in the short run. I am hoping they can turn it around. For even if I might sometimes find myself on the other side on SOME issues, I think there is great value in having their be an articulate, credible organization to serve as a “spokesorg” for the leaders of the business community. In the past, the BRT has served that function, along with the Chamber.

    While we can say the BRT overreached, I think it is also important to recognize certain key players in BRT appear to have overplayed their hand, committing the organization to a controversial position without adequately consulting the membership. In some accounts I have seen, it appears key members of the executive committee were also not consulted.

    Mitch D’Olier and Don Horner have become major powerplayers in business and political circles. But for all their rumored influence and sophistication, THEY appear to have been the main culprits in this inept move. They appear to have used their positions with the BRT to push their personal, non-business, socially conservative agenda.

    I am not privy to the internal deliberations of the BRT, but if the organization is going to regain its credibility, it must rein in those two. Their actions threaten the credibility and effectiveness of the organization when they attempt to win allies for other issues properly within their kuleana.

  4. Shaloha Says:

    I totally agree with Dave regarding BRT’s loss of credibility. However, I do not think there was any credibility to loose and BRT is not “respected” by the small business community that is responsible for almost 100% of all job creation in Hawaii and elsewhere.

    BTR is a collection of the state regulated monopolies (Matson/HECO) and the Democrat party fronts (such as FHB), etc.

    All of these “business'” are dependent on the Democrat party dominated by the radical LGBT for their profits and existence.

    This is just another example of the state controlled large business community attempting meekly to assert themselves and being slapped down by the totalitarian radical Democrat party.

    Again, this is a tempest in the teapot. From the corrupt and Democrat dominated Supreme Court (which discovered Gay marriage in the Hawaii Constitution)to the Democrat dominated media, from the Democrat dominated Buiness community to the Democrat dominated Union, the Gay agenda will be pushed down the throats of the people of Hawaii, public opinion be damned.

  5. Kolea Says:

    Again the everpresent homophobic turn of phrase: “pushed down the throat.” Kinda makes you wonder. Why are they fixated on that image?

  6. Kolea Says:

    But more seriously. Both the S-A editorial and an article by Derrick DePledge said that Lingle is saying this may be the most difficult decision of her political career.

    Is she saying the decision is POLITICALLY difficult or that the policy dimension are difficult for her to sort out? Those are two very different types of consideration.

    If the decision is so difficult, why was she AWOL from the earlier debates on the bill? She generally sends a representative of the administration to testify on important bills, so why not this one? Yes, it is POLITICALLY tough, but that’s why she is paid the big bucks. All the legislators were forced to take a stand, with most of the leaders having to explain their positions in full public view. Why was Lingle silent, except to publicly wish the issue would go away?

    I have been predicting for quite some time that she would veto the bill, a position which has annoyed some of the other CU advocates. WooWoo presented a well-reasoned argument as to how she could allow the bill to become law and turn it into a “win.” I wish he were right but that would require the Governor to listen to her “better nature,” something I have yet to see.

    I think she will ask her better nature to shut up, will give int to her perception she needs to mollify the hard right now ascendant in the Republican Party and, contrary to her oft-repeated assertion, her veto will be a MAJOR part of her legacy as Governor.

    A minor Greek tragedy, for those inclined to see such things in current events.

  7. hipoli Says:

    To Alan Spector: Are there plans to address Mitch D’Olier, specifically?

    I can not BELIEVE Norman Sakamoto would have this man head up his campaign. It just makes me sick to my stomach. Remember that everyone, please. Mitch is the man behind Norman. Spread it, far and wide.

    I want to see Mitch’s exit from Hawaii soon. Can anyone out there get him a job-offer that he cant refuse — out of this State?

  8. Alan R. Spector Says:

    Both Hawaiian Electric and Hawaiian Airlines both just issued letters distancing themselves from the HBR letter and specifically stating that they do NOT support a veto of HB444.

  9. David Shapiro Says:

    Hipoli, you’re getting to the line of anonymous bashing I’m going to allow in this forum. If you’re going to trash somebody else’s name like that, use yours and be accountable. We’re not running citizens out of town around here.

  10. Michael Golojuch, Jr. Says:

    To hipoli:

    Norman Sakamoto is a member of Transformation Hawaii this is the group that calls for Hawaii to become an all christian state.

    So it is no big surprise that Mitch is running Norman’s campaign.

  11. Michael Says:

    Predicting what lingle would veto is a hindsight of what was already said. 4 reasons lingle will veto and 1 is WORDING. 3 other reasons not personal or political. Pilate let the crowd choose and they chose Barabas and Jesus was crucified. Pilate was with hands clean and so shall lingle if she does nothing. The Choice has already been made, PASSED and awaiting a Veto of lingle, which is no prediction, lingle says she may Veto on WORDING. A BILL THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN PASSED BY LEGISLATURE.

    lingle has on desk on her Round table on wheels the ALREADY PASSED BILL. She lollylags and The Bill THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN PASSED

  12. Michael Says:

    The “lazy susan” of any business should not deal with Predjudice to anyone when money is to be made and customers should not be denied service.
    Businesses would be buy us to say they hate the color of money or the person who is a CUSTOMER.

    I have accepted that the BILL HAS ALREADY BEEN PASSED.
    If it is Vetoed by lingle, there is the chance for an appeal but it will be with the next governor. Voting should not be based on Personal or Political but who would be the right person overall. For better or worse. FOR THE PEOPLE. Not a PARTY.

    The fact should be that those in favor should support the ALREADY PASSED BILL. Bashing others will only infuriate those and to spite, may VETO. It would become Personal and very Political when one is angered. Can’t say “Bite me” to someone who has the power to Veto. Can’t Veto what is not Vetoed. Am I talking in circles? Guess life is a Merry go Round.

  13. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    For those of us who’ve worked with Mitch D`Olier on a variety of issues, I know that I was surprised that he put himself out there like that even though I knew he was very active in his church. However, he has and he might even be held accountable by his cohorts in the Hawaii Business Roundtable.

    However, this is a critical issue because it represents the values that he believes are the most important ones to hold.

    BTW – Norman Sakamoto is not the only Christian fundamentalist seeking political office. Gary Okino, currently on the Honolulu City Council, is challenging Blake Oshiro for the District 33 seat in the State House for Blake’s positions on reproductive choice, gay marriage, and the death penalty. For years, Blake was Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee although he’s been Majority Leader now for the past couple of years. Should he win, he may very well become Judiciary Chair.

    Tracy Nakano Bean (R) is challenging Senator Jill Tokuda (D) for her “liberal” positions on a variety of social justice issues which is roughly defined as supporting the Democratic Party’s platform. District 24 where this battle will be fought stretches from Enchanted Lake in Kailua all the way to the northern edge of Kane`ohe Town.

    Any other Christian fundamentalists running out there? I hope that we can keep their names front & center.

  14. Michael Says:

    oshiro can’t write a bill.

    It was commented in the past, that lingle is articulate in her wording as she is a journalist major. One period or coma or word out of place would catch lingle’s eyes.

  15. hipoli Says:

    Are you serious, Michael? You are so wrong on that comment. Blake Oshiro’s one of the best legislators in that building. The guy is so good at his job & I know he can write donuts around 95% of the people in that building. Sorry, you can complain about his actual position on bills, but I wont let anyone say this man is not capable, incredibly intelligent, dedicated to both his beliefs and to this State, and above all, a man of honor and integrity. Did you not see those men vote UP on 444, with tears in their eyes? Why? Because each of them looked to their friend, Blake Oshiro, and knew in their hearts that their 444 vote was pure, was from their hearts, and they were doing the right thing. Now, Blake faces a huge race this election. If he loses his seat because of 444, I know Blake will accept the voters will, but I promise that this State will have lost one of its best legislators. We will all feel that loss, not just that district.

    If Lingle judges people on their grammar instead of their character or the merits of the argument being presented, that sure would explain a lot about the past 8 years.

  16. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    HIPOLI is absolutely right about Blake Oshiro. I could easily see him sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States of America if he had xontinued his legal career in that direction when he graduated from law school.

    We are indeed very, very lucky to have someone with his qualifications working for us. Perhaps Michael would prefer to have Rod Tam back at the Legislature.

    Associate Attorney
    Alston, Hunt, Floyd, & Ing

    William S. Richardson, School of Law, University of Hawaii Juris Doctor, Environmental Law Certificate, 1996

    University of Southern California, Bachelor of Arts English Literature, 1992

    Pearl City High School, Pearl City, 1988
    Highlands Intermediate School, Pearl City
    Momilani Elementary School, Pearl City

    Council of State Governments Henry Toll Fellow, 2006

    Flemming Fellow, 2002

    Judicial Law Clerk, First Circuit Court, State of Hawaii (Honorable Karen N. Blondin), August 1996-October 1997

  17. Michael Golojuch, Jr. Says:

    Michael it appears that you have never read anything that he has ever written.

    Just because you do not like a person for whatever reason (homophobia for example) you should be able to make your case without tearing a person down with baseless personal attacks.

  18. charles Says:

    I concur. I would put Blake as one of the top five legislators in Hawaii.

    When you really think about it, there aren’t many legislators who are meticulous in policymaking, fastidious about detail, and are progressive in their politics. I can think of three but then it’s slow going after that.

    As far as Lingle goes, just go back to her first state of the state when she blew the court ruling and Chief Justice Moon corrected her. She may not dangle her participles or split her infinitives but she certainly doesn’t get her facts straight.

  19. Michael Says:

    Hipoli, Tell lingle about oshiro’s bill writing then.
    I am not the one who has to VETO the bill because of poor writing(wording). In the past I said I have accepted that the Bill has already been passed. The Bill gets Vetoed then what I said has some substance. lingle does nothing the bill has already been passed. So what then? It is not about grammar.

    Capitalist, you side with those who oppose me, if they all jump off the cliff, it seems you would follow. Such a lemming. If Rod Tam was a good legislature, must be, he has not resigned. Maybe shifted around a little but still there. Too bad you cannot argue a good 3 rounds. You talk in circles and end up contradicting yourself and end up sounds repetive. Educated, yet to believe so but with lack of common census.

    Golojuch Jr,. the very right you fight for is Civil Rights. It is my Freedom of Speech to say what I said. Think what you like and bash me all you like. I am not the one in real life being prosecuted. I am a nobody who likes it that way. I don’t push who I am or shove anything down anyones throat against their will. People put their own foot in their mouth.

    You all see me flinching in fear? I say what I say and stand by it. You only see one side of things, I see both. Tunnel vision with lack of openess is what you all see. One mind one thought. Think before you bash me. Dish out but you best be able to take it.

    oshiro may be one of the best for his job, so are those who push for Chicken Fighting as their culture.
    It does not appeal to all but only a few.

  20. hipoli Says:

    If you, Michael, can not see the difference between defending and supporting Blake Oshiro versus “bashing” you, you arent worth any more of all of our time than this final sentence to you.

  21. Michael Says:

    Good. Seems you want the last say, you got it.
    You are not worth my time either.

  22. Kolea Says:

    Not that “facts” might make a difference here, but if Lingle has concerns about the “wording” of the bill, the concerns she has expressed appear to apply to the January 2010 effective date and the possible impact of including opposite sex couples as beneficiaries.

    Blake Oshiro cannot reasonably be held accountable for either of those “technical” problems of the bill, as the effective date should have been fixed in the Senate and it was also the Senate which amended the bill to include opposite sex couples.

    Blake’s original bill was strong, clear and legislatively “elegant.”

  23. Michael Says:

    Another one steps up to the plate.

    I’ll walk this batter and wait for plates to fill. Next Batter up hoping to hit a grand slam.
    2 outs. Down to 2 strikes and 1 more pitch. Batter is out and bases are loaded. Game Over.

  24. Michael Says:

    correction: bases to fill

  25. Kolea Says:


    I appreciate your decision to walk me rather than pitch me an argument I would have hit out of the ball park.

    But I am not sure that is a useful approach IF the prupose of exchanging ideas is to arrive at a more proximate understanding of the “truth.”

    You attacked Blake Oshiro’s writing HB444, using the “journalist” Linda Lingle’s objections as evidence he is not competent at drafting legislation.

    If we stick with your baseball metaphor, you imagine yourself in the wrong position. You have been shut out. All the other players have left the field. You are standing alone in the field wondering, “what just happened.”

    You lost.

  26. Michael Golojuch, Jr. Says:

    There is no legal reason to veto HB 444 – even the attorney general has said that the effective dates does not invalidate the bill and that is not Oshiro’s fault.

    The only reason to veto HB 444 is based on homophobia which is based on biblical teaching. So really there is no reason to veto HB 444.

  27. Michael Says:

    I don’t need to only pitch, I play left field as well.
    I am not the one who is worrying about a Veto or not.
    As far as your team mates, who needs to worry about who I playing against. I’m not bit worried about being alone. If I pitch all strikes, who needs other players? Who lost? You can always step up to the plate. Casey Jones. 3 strikes and standing out. Never think a walk is because a pitcher is afraid that one will hit his pitch. Never came to my mind to be afraid. At least not for me.

    The truth? Yours or everyone else’s? I don’t force anything anyones throat. There are those who willingly take it and then there are those who end with their foot in their mouth. I am speaking clearing.

    I stated not attacked. If I attacked I would be have been moderated. Stated that lingle said wording. I read the Bill and it can be said in many ways. Your way, my way, each way. That is a, I think confusion on wording? Can be said in many ways or interpreted?

    You may be playing Ball but not in the same Park I am. Different league. You are playing with a bunch of lemmings. One leads the others follow.

    I don’t need backers to say I am right. I never said I was right. Your words. Your thinking.
    Bad writing or bad thinking.

  28. Michael Golojuch, Jr. Says:

    You are pitching strikes because NO ONE else is playing with you – so that is not pitching strikes that is just throwing balls at NO ONE.

  29. Michael Says:

    That one came out of left field.

  30. David Shapiro Says:

    Ok guys, enough with the strained baseball metaphors. Let’s please stick to the issue or move on to another one. Thanks.

  31. hipoli Says:

    Lingle allowed into law a severely flawed cigarette tax bill – so the precedence for her to allow flawed bills to pass is readily established. We neednt actually argue whether the bill is or is not technically flawed, as that is ultimately fixable, Michael. If she even tries to use that one in a veto message, I hope the 444groups call BS.

    You clearly do not know Blake Oshiro, because if you did, you would hold the same level of respect the rest of us, who actually do this for a living, hold for Blake.

    Everyone else — let this twirp have his metaphores and his final words. It should be obvious to all what we are dealing with. Dave is right. Enough.

    So, go ahead, Michael, center stage and the final word is yours, oh you brilliant little man you. Tell us how we all are youre right and we’re so wrong, how youre smarter than all of us, and how youre just the better batter.

    Republicans…they are all alike.

  32. Michael Says:

    Like I said

  33. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Michael: If you knew me personally as does Kolea, Michael G. and David, you would never ever apply the term “lemming” to me. The one thing that I do not ever do is follow the beaten path on any issue or subject.

    FYI – I can outpitch and outhit you any day of the week even in my old-ish age. My father was signed by by the New York Giants two days before he received his draft notice for the Korean War. Unfortunately, his professional ball playing days ended after being wounded, but he stayed in baseball for the rest of his life first by coaching and later on by owning a Triple A baseball franchise.

    Sorry, David, for going against your wishes, but calling me a “lemming”???

  34. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Whoops!!! ….as DO Kolea. Michael G. and David,….

    Also, please delete the second “by” in the following sentence.

  35. Michael Says:

    Follow the leader!

    I don’t need to know anyone on a personal basis.
    I am not in your group or need to be.
    It is my Freedom of Speech to comment as an individual. Online? I don’t need to agree or disagree to be here.

    I have been through worst and need not hide under anyones skirt or be in a group. I can take as much as I dish out. If I resort to name calling in a straight form, I get moderated.

    Capitalist, I know who I am. Don’t brag about who you are. Those who are known don’t need to brag about education or accomplishments. People know without having it flaunted in their face.

  36. David Shapiro Says:

    This thread has ceased to be productive so I’m closing it.

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