A clear path on gay unions

Tonight’s election results should emphatically settle the divisive issue of civil unions.

Democrat Neil Abercrombie, a longtime supporter of gay rights who said he’d sign a reintroduced version of HB 444, scored a lopsided victory despite a major effort by churches that opposed the measure to get out the vote for their Republican ally James “Duke” Aiona.

Few legislators who voted for HB 444 felt the sting of the opposition as Democrats easily maintained their super-majority in the House and Senate.

The only reasonable way to read the results is that Hawai‘i voters by a solid majority are OK with giving gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexuals and it’s time to finally get past this issue that has divided us for more than a decade.

The Legislature should pass a clean version of the civil unions bill early in the 2011 session and Abercrombie should sign it without delay so we can move on to other problems.

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13 Comments on “A clear path on gay unions”

  1. tommy Says:

    I agree with your analysis and hope Gov. Abercrombie signs HB444.

  2. Michael Says:

    Pending on the Wording of Civil Union and not Same Sex Marriage.

  3. Couldn’t agree with you more Dave!

    Last night was a great victory for equality and civil rights in Hawaii. We’ve been saying all along that Equality wins elections, not the other way around.

    We have a decade of election results to prove this, however, many local legislators were still skeptical of these results since they were from the mainland and memories of the 1990s same-sex marriage battles in Hawaii still linger.

    11/2/10 can put such doubts to rest.

  4. Kolea Says:

    I made the following comment in response to your “Dems Make a Stand” posting, but am replicating it here because it is relevant to this topic.

    In the 3rd printout, released sometime around 11 last night, Marilyn Lee was losing to Republican Shaun Kawakami. In this morning’s 4th printout, Lee had pulled ahead by 17 votes. A margin that close undoubtedly triggered a handcount audit of all the ballots in the district, with Republican and Democratic observers looking on closely.

    The outcome of this race is significant for a reason unknown to many people. During the internal debates over HB444 (civil unions)in the House Democratic caucus, Rep. Lee was specifically cited as a Democrat who might be made vulnerable to a Republican defeat if the vote were to be held. According to my understanding, this argument was not made by Rep. Lee herself, but by others. Rep. Lee is one of the sweetest and best-liked people in the House and when leadership told the Democratic members a vote on civil unions might put HER at risk, it caused some members to agree to not force a vote on the issue.

    And that agreement held until the last minute effort to pull the bill back for consideration by Blake Oshiro.

    So had Rep. Lee lost, those opposed to the re-consideration could have used her defeat as an “I told you so” moment against HB444 supporters. Fortunately, she won.

    – – – – – – –

    In reviewing the results, both primary and yesterday’s general, I cannot see evidence that any pro-Civil Unions legislator lost BECAUSE of their support of CUs.

    Maui’s Joe Bertram was a strong supporter of civil unions, but he lost because of his foolish statements in support of a friend involved in soliciting sex online from what he thought was an underaged girl. And, from friends on Maui, I heard he didn’t campaign at all. Even then, he narrowly lost.

    And, as you say, in the BIG races, the winners ALL supported Civil Unions: Inouye, Abercrombie, Hanabusa and Hirono. In each case, they were opposed by anti-CU candidates. And Neil defeated TWO anti-CU candidates–first Mufi, then Aiona. Brian Schatz defeated anti-CU candidates Bobby Bunda and Norm Sakamoto in the Democratic LG race.

    Support for civil unions is NOT something Hawaii politicians need to run away from.

    It will pass quickly in the 2011 session and be signed into law by our new governor, Neil Abercrombie.

    And the skies will not open, with lightning bolts striking down the State Capitol (thought sea-levels will continue to rise). Families will NOT be weakened by its passage, though children in families headed by gay parents will now have more legal, economic and psychological security. A GOOD thing.


  5. Michael Says:

    People should not count their Chickens before the Egg Hatches.

    Governor Abercrombie said he agrees to Civil Union as Civil Rights but disagrees on Same Sex Marriage. Ask him yourselves. Mr. Aiona said the same thing and he lost. LGDT did not sway the vote on who won. Nothing has been won yet and if the people decide then so be it.


  6. @ Michael: Abercrombie submitted testimony in support of HB444 at the public hearing before the Senate. I believe his wife read his testimony as Neil was in DC. He was also highly critical of Lingle’s veto of HB444 and indicated that if he was Governor at the time, he would have signed the bill into law. During his election campaign, promised to sign a new civil union bill into law.

    I believe the assessment made by David Shapiro is on target.

  7. Kolea Says:


    You continue to misunderstand and misstate the issue of civil unions. Let me offer my opinion from having been deeply involved in trying to get the bill passed and as a longtime friend and supporter of Neil Abercrombie. (I am NOT speaking for him in any official capacity).

    Neil is a STRONG supporter of “Civil Unions” as defined in HB444 as the legal equivalent of all rights and responsibilities granted under STATE through marriage.

    While the next CU bill may not be identical to HB444, it will be damn close in the basic conception. The primary author will undoubtedly be re-elected Rep. Blake Oshiro. The Senate lost three opponents of civil unions last night: Fred Hemmings, Bobby Bunda and Norm Sakamoto. Who the Senate President will be is anybody’s guess. (Well, I expect either Russell Kokobun or Shan Tsutsui, but haven’t looked closely at the votes. Nor do I know how the factions will re-shuffle after Hanabusa’s departure. I expect Donna Kim will want to keep Ways and Means. But we are going too far afield and in advance of facts yet to develop.

    Civil unions WILL pass in 2011. It will, in its essentials, be very close to either the 2009 original House draft or the final Senate version. And it WILL be signed by the new governor. The redshirts will rant and rave and Republicans will try to benefit from their outrage. But the public overall is TIRED of this issue taking up so much time and attention. They are saying “Enough already. Pass the bill and move on.”

    You’ll have to find some other issue to say odd things about.

    Get back to me if you see an egg hatching and bringing forth anything different than what I am predicting here.

  8. Michael Says:

    Let’s see.

    You both say Civil Union but in Past comments made, it is about Same Sex Marriage. I do not disagree with Civil Union as Civil Rights, but I stand firm to object on Same Sex Marriage. However if I am out voted then I shall accept the Vote of the Majority.
    If the Governor now Governor Abercrombie can do what he is supposed to do as one in his office and decide without the public voting, then I have to tolerate and accept what is Voted on. If No then there are those who can appeal. I tolerate either way. Does not bother me one bit.



    Both say Civil Union, Civil Rights but both mean Same Sex Marriage. I see a BIG DIFFERENCE. If you see it as one sided then you should see what a WIDE LOAD IS. The Back Side. You both are Advocates for Civil Union meaning Same Sex Marriage. The Dissagreement is Wording. Civil Rights is not the issue. It has been allowed since Dr. Martin Luther King had a Dream and shared it with others. Same Sex Marriage was not his dream. You both make an arguement of Civil Unions. Look at the Wording. Google, Yahoo or any website will give a definition and none would say SAME SEX MARRIAGE.

    No mention by either of SAME SEX MARRIAGE BUT?
    I am sure you both remember what you say in the past.
    If you cannot remember it will come back and haunt you.

  9. Michael Says:

    LGBT. not what was written.. no D’s

  10. Kolea Says:


    I clicked on the links you provided. But as per normal, I cannot understand what point you are trying to make. I re-read Alan’s guest editorial and thought it was clearly written and explains well the reasons why “civil unions” are less than full marriage equality.

    I also was reminded, by reading the comments there, that you call yourself “Guest” on the Star-Advertiser discussion boards and, in re-reading your comments four months ago, I was also reminded you really don’t CARE about understanding the issues you are commenting on. You are just entertaining yourself and deliberately trying to derail orderly discussion.

    I will now return to my default setting, “Ignore all comments by ‘Michael” and/or ‘Guest’.” I suggest others might find it more productive to follow the same course.

  11. Juliet Begley Says:

    Enough all ready – the people have spoken and they don’t care about same-sex marriage – those stuupid red signs that popped up in my neighborhood stating in red letters – “No HB444″…..were merely code to vote for Aiona…..and “we” didn’t. Got it, we didn’t vote for the people who say no for civil rights for all people. This legislation won’t help me personally – BUT – it will go a long way to help others who are being harmed by their inability to have a legally sanctioned relationship. So I say let’s get to work on getting people back to work and making shelter for those in need, and repairing our infrastructure, and addressing our schools and their issues, and moving forward. We don’t have money – and HB444 would not have cost us much of anything in terms of $$ anyway – not when one looks at the costs arising personally for many who have had to live under a cloud of being legally in limbo.

  12. notstupid556 Says:

    I am not opposed to civil unions or gay marriage. What I’m opposed to is couples (heterosexual, homosexual or whatever) getting better tax, health, and other benefits. Why? The majority of the population is single and the “couples” including civil union couples are and will be taking advantage of us. I hear no call for equality and justice for ALL.

  13. Michael Says:

    I welcome it. Ignore my comments but others will read it. Written by guest or whoever.

    Of course this is an entertainment for me. As if Kolea is your real name. Should I say what it really is? I need not be real to you or anyone else. I come and go as I please, using any name I choose. I could care none of what you think of my comments

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