Lingle Invites Justice Levinson to HB 444 Decision
The Hawaii Supreme Court judge whose 1993 opinion marked the beginning of the state's debate on gay rights will be there when the fate of the civil unions bill is decided today. Justice Steven H. Levinson was invited by the staff of Gov. Linda Lingle to attend her announcement, he told Civil Beat.
The Hawaii Supreme Court justice who authored the ruling that started it all will be there this afternoon for the latest chapter in the gay rights saga.
Justice Steven H. Levinson’s 1993 opinion stated that laws prohibiting same-sex couples the right to marry violated equal protection rights unless the state could show a “compelling reason” for such discrimination. Seventeen years, a Constitutional amendment and many battles later, Levinson, now retired, is among those who were invited to the governor’s office to witness her announce her decision on House Bill 444 later today, he told Civil Beat this morning.
“Because I was a member of the group of supporters of 444 that made a presentation to her some time ago in her office, I’m assuming that’s the reason why they’re asking me to be there,” he said, noting there is limited space in the conference room where she’ll make the announcement. “But I’m also assuming that there will be supporters and opponents of 444 present. The fact that she’s asking me, I wish I could take that as a predictor of what she’s going to do, but I can’t do that.
“Without knowing what the entire list (of invitees) looks like, I can’t read any tea leaves from it. I’ve been running scenarios in my head for a long time, why she would veto it, why she would sign it into law,” he said. “My gut is telling me to be hopeful, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point.”
He called today “the day for the governor to drop the other shoe with respect to all of the bills on the veto list.”
Civil Beat has also confirmed that Susie Roth, wife of former Lingle advisor Randy Roth and a proponent of HB444, has also been invited to be present. A call came yesterday from the governor’s office, Randy Roth said.
Randy Roth and Levinson said Lingle may have invited advocates from both sides of the debate.
Messages seeking a list of invitees from Lingle spokesman Russell Pang were left around 11 a.m. Tuesday and have not yet been returned. Pang wrote in an e-mail blast to reporters that the governor’s office had received a high volume of calls regarding civil unions and would be informing the media when an announcement was scheduled.
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