After years of debate on gay rights and months of discussion on the merits of one proposal, Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday vetoed House Bill 444, the civil unions bill. Reaction to her decision — positive and negative — poured in from around the state.

  • Lingle’s official statement regarding the veto: “This is a decision that should not be made by one person sitting in her office or by members of the majority party behind closed doors in a legislative caucus, but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth.”

  • Alan Spector, legislative affairs co-chair for Equality Hawaii: “We’re disappointed and outraged that same-sex families will not be treated equally under Hawaii law, but vow to come back and fight this fight another day.”

  • Tara O’Neill, President of Pride Alliance Hawaii: “Two separate and independent economic studies, a poll conducted by a nationally recognized polling organization, and the thousands of residents who vocalized their support of the bill to the governor and the Legislature over the past two years makes clear that the passage of HB444 is good economic sense, is socially just, and is supported by the people of Hawaii.”

  • Republican gubernatorial candidate James “Duke” Aiona: “As I have always said, this issue will persist as long as lawmakers continue to keep the public from deciding whether marriage should be between a man and a woman. If elected governor, I will propose a constitutional amendment on this issue so the people can define marriage once and for all.”

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie: “Now, it will be up to the next governor and Legislature to ensure that all people of Hawaii receive equal treatment. Protecting people’s civil rights cannot be compromised. I am committed to that most essential of constitutional imperatives.”

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann: “I continue to believe that marriage between a man and a woman is sacrosanct. That said, as someone who has fought to overcome prejudice, I would also continue to champion the civil rights of all citizens and seek to end discrimination—in employment, housing, health care, and areas where it still exists—irrespective of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious preference.”

  • Citizens for Equal Rights: “We think the governor passed up a historic opportunity for leadership on an issue whose time has come. But we are determined to keep up the struggle for equality.”

  • Jennifer C. Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal: “In caving in to a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign mounted by the bill’s opponents, Governor Lingle has abandoned thousands of Hawaii families who have needed this bills protections for many years.”

  • Hawaii Republican Party Chair Jonah Kaauwai: “Hawaii Republicans voted near unanimously at this year’s convention to urge Gov. Lingle to veto this bill. We are clearly the only party who will stand up to protect traditional marriage [pdf] in Hawaii.”

  • Jo-Ann Adams, Chair of the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii: “With such broad support from the legislators, who are the elected officials closest to the public, and the consistent results of the professional polls showing broad support for civil unions as a civil rights issue, we are deeply disappointed that the governor ignored the will of the people and vetoed the bill.”

  • Rev. Carolyn M. Golojuch, President of PFLAG-Oahu: “Her denial is a violation of the integrity of her office and a violation of her oath of office. Governor Lingle’s denial of equal rights, benefits and protections for one segment of our citizens is a denial for all of our citizens of Hawaii.”

  • Brian Schatz, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor: “The governor’s decision and reasoning were deeply flawed.
    If the Civil Rights Act had been put to a popular vote, it would not have passed. In addition, the idea that this was ‘too important’ for the governor to decide on was especially hard to take. That’s what leaders are supposed to do.”

Updated Wednesday:

  • The Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii: “We will ask the Legislature next year to consider changes and additions to Hawaii’s reciprocal beneficiary statute to provide for any needs, privileges and protections the proponents of HB 444 were seeking.”

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