07/06/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
The Hawaii ACLU and the Hawaii chapter of Lambda Legal have already prepared the lawsuit challenging the veto decision of Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. Citing the possibility of long legal battles if she signed the civil unions bill (HB 444) into law, Governor Lingle vetoed it today. Never the less, the lawsuits are on their way.
“This was a sad surrender to political expediency that does not support business or family interests, but damages them. In caving in to a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign mounted by the bill’s opponents, Governor Lingle has abandoned thousands of Hawai`i families who have needed this bill’s protections for many years. We’re also disappointed that the Legislature opted to not override this veto immediately — we would have preferred to see couples win fair treatment through the political branch rather than having to pursue legal action. However, we’re still ready to do what’s necessary so our clients can protect their loved ones.”
Indeed, Vermont, the first state in the Union to have civil unions, had not a single lawsuit regarding their passage.
Laurie Temple, Staff Attorney for the ACLU, said “We’re obviously disappointed that Governor Lingle has, once again, used her power to deny the people of Hawai`i their civil rights. Luckily for the people of Hawai`i, however, our constitution prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation. If the Governor won’t honor her oath to uphold the constitution, the courts will.”
In 1998, the Hawaii Constitution was amended to allow the legislature to ban same-sex marriages, and thus end running the Hawaii Supreme Court. Numerous attempts at passing civil unions have been tried, but usually they have fallen apart, or as with today, been vetoed.
Governor Lingle may be hoping that, as a member of the 9th District Court of Appeals, her veto may amount to little as a lawsuit filed in California is making its way up the legislative ladder already. Other lawsuits are already underway regarding marriage equality and the attempt through the courts to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.