Had Gov. Linda Lingle signed House Bill 444 into law, Hawaii would have become the sixth state to recognize civil unions; five others and the District of Columbia have same-sex marriage. Instead, the civil unions bill was vetoed Tuesday. National media and pundits react to the news:

  • San Francisco Chronicle “Hawaii Insider” blogger Jeanne Cooper says California shouldn’t point fingers: “Certainly, we Californians are quick to call for a [travel] boycott in places that have policies we don’t agree with — witness Arizona — but given Proposition 8’s success in blocking same-sex marriages in California, it strikes me as hypocritical to apply the same to Hawaii, particularly when so many island legislators had come out in favor of the civil unions bill, HB44[4], and not to the Golden State.”

  • The National Review blogger William C. Duncan agreed that the legislative shenanigans justify the veto. He notes that “two of the three gubernatorial contenders support the veto and would prefer a citizen vote on the issue. The Democratic candidate supports the bill.” (Apparently Mufi Hannemann is now a Republican?)

  • Attorney Emma Ruby-Sachs at the Huffington Post doesn’t want the majority determining minority rights: “It is because civil unions and all equality rights are about restoring basic rights to a minority suffering discrimination under the power of the majority. Leave minority rights to a majority vote and you will almost always see a result that favors continued discrimination.”

  • Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic says it could be worse: “Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii vetoes a civil unions bill because it would create separate-but-equal status for gay citizens. Lingle supports separate and unequal. Which is one better than the GOP platforms in Montana and Texas, which want gays back in jail.”

  • Comedy Central blogger Dennis DiClaudio strikes a sarcastic tone: “Yeah, I guess it would be unfair to rob the state’s voting population of the chance to chose en masse to grant equal rights to a small and historically-subjugated minority. I mean, that’s how the country decided to end slavery and give women the right to vote, right? It still brings a tear to my eye when I remember how the citizens of my country all decided to make those choices by themselves without any legislative mandates whatsoever.”

  • David Dayen at Firedoglake says Lingle broke a campaign promise: “Observers would be justified in thinking that Hawaiians have already decided the issue. Eight years ago, before Lingle was elected to her first term, she promised to sign a civil unions bill. She hemmed and hawed until the very last minute with this legislation, however, and ultimately went back on that promise.”

  • Blogger “conservativecrusade” at RedState has no problem with some rights for gays: “I get tired of hearing about gays and their issues, feelings, complaints, etc just as much as so many others. But when it comes down to it, I really do not care if they want to join together in civil unions as long as I do not get an invite. If they want the always around partner, the loss of freedom, the nagging, the costly divorce, etc just like us straight folk, have at it.”


  • Gov. Lingle — one of Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Persons” in the world — was identified as a Democrat on MSNBC. Olbermann said: “A decision of this magnitude was made by one individual. At least the legislature is a group. And by the way, we elect you idiots to act. Are you suggesting that we should hold a referendum on everything more important than designating Jan. 11 as Hawaiian Pineapple Day? If you are opposed, then have the courage to say that you are opposed instead of hiding behind measly sophistry.”

  • Recent Yale University Law School graduate Aaron Zelinsky writes at the Huffington Post that Lingle’s explanation is a cop-out: “Instead of hiding behind faux-constitutionalism, Governor Lingle should be honest with the people of Hawaii: She vetoed HB 444 on policy grounds. The people of Hawaii deserve a real debate on the substance of civil unions, not an unpersuasive exercise in faux-constitutionalism.”

  • Diane Mannina at The Heritage Foundation’s blog, The Foundry, supports the veto and says the debate needs more than last-minute legislative maneuvers: “The debate surrounding the redefinition of marriage in Hawaii centers on the nature of family and its role as ‘a prime institution in civil society.’ According to Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Chuck Donovan, the ‘family is not the creature of the state’ but is ‘both natural and pre-political’ in its origins. As such, the consequences of a redefinition for the whole of the state are weighty.”

  • Igor Volsky of Think Progress responds to Lingle’s statement that civil unions are “marriage by another name”: “Unlike marriage, civil unions are only recognized in the state in which they are performed and couples do not carry the benefits of civil unions across state lines. Couples united in a civil union have no access to the more than 1,000 federal rights, which, incidentally are still denied to same-sex married couples under the Defense of Marriage Act.”

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