UPDATED 5/21/2012 7:15 a.m.

When President Barack Obama announced, on May 9, his support for same-sex marriage, a number of top Hawaii Democrats welcomed the decision.

They included Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and congressional candidates Ed Case, Tulsi Gabbard, Bob Marx and Esther Kiaaina.

Three well-known leaders, however, didn’t have a thing to say as of Friday, despite Civil Beat’s repeated efforts to hear from them over the last two weeks: U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat, and Republicans Linda Lingle and Charles Djou.

Why are these major politicians mum on the defining civil rights issue of a generation?

The reticence of Lingle and Djou, candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, respectively, fits with the GOP’s political playbook.

After all, most Republicans nationally have said little or nothing about Obama’s position on gay marriage. They don’t wish to anger conservatives by agreeing with the president, nor alienate independents and younger voters by publicly opposing the controversial issue.

Hanabusa’s failure to communicate is more puzzling; her spokesman twice promised us a response, but as of Friday we had yet to hear anything. Yet, the issue of gay marriage could well come up in her election rematch against Djou this fall.

UPDATE Hanabusa’s office finally sent an email at about 8:30 p.m. Friday. Here is her response:

“I have always believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. However, I have argued forcefully and consistently for the rights of all Americans. I am proud of the work I did to help write and first pass Hawaii’s civil unions law, my support of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and my co-sponsorship of the Respect for Marriage Act, which calls for federal recognition of any marriage that is valid in the state in which it was licensed.

“The issue of same-sex marriage is now before a number of courts and legislative bodies across the nation. If court rulings or legislative acts grant same-sex partners the right to marry, nationally or in the state of Hawaii, I will fully support those decisions.”

The reality is that more than 40 states have some kind of prohibition against marriage between same-sex couples. Here at home, a recent Civil Beat poll showed that a majority of Hawaii voters do not support it.

Still, Lingle and Djou have each in the recent past been more open about their views on same-sex equal rights. Lingle vetoed civil unions legislation in 2010 — she said such emotional decisions should be left up to voters — while Djou, who opposed gay marriage, supported ending the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy.

Give credit to Mufi Hannemann, another Democrat running for Congress, for at least telling us where he stands — even if it is at odds with most people in his party.

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he told Civil Beat. “However, I also believe that the decisions of the states which have permitted same-sex marriage and/or civil unions, such as Hawaii, should be respected, and I would oppose efforts at the federal level to override those states’ decisions.”

Whether you agree with that position or not, Hannemann is taking a stand. And, belatedly, so is Hanabusa. It would appear Lingle and Djou are still lacking such courage.