In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court seemed on the verge of bringing marriage equality to the state. In Baehr v. Lewin, the court held that the ban on gay marriages was a form of sex discrimination, and that the state therefore bore a heavy burden of justification. The case was sent back to the lower court for a determination of that question. With the rules of engagement set, the lower court found in favor of the gay couples seeking marriage licenses. The case went back to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which seemed poised to agree. Things looked great for marriage equality, until…
The Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (signed by Clinton, remember), and the Hawaii voters swamped the courts by amending their state’s constitution to permit the denial of marriage equality. The compromise was the oafishly named “reciprocal beneficiary” (a name that has never again been spoken by any other state), an entity that confers a puny subset of the benefits granted to married couples. Now, all these years later, the legislature is poised to go the all-but-marriage route that has quietly gathered momentum over the last year.
The State Senate has just passed the civil union bill by a veto-proof majority. The State House of Representatives is apparently on the cusp of having enough votes to do the same; whether they’ll take up the bill is unclear. The legislator must think they need a veto-proof majority, as the twice-divorced Governor, Linda Lingle, has taken this courageous position:
“Asked what she thought about the issue of civil unions or gay marriage, Lingle said: ‘My thought is they should not discuss it. I don’t want to discuss it. I want to discuss job creation.'”
Well, governor, they are discussing it. What are you going to do if it lands on your desk? Once you sign it, it’s over and you can get back to job creation. If you don’t, it’s back to the legislature to see whether they’ll override your veto. Which would be more distracting? And how would you justify denying benefits to gay couples with children while arguing for benefits for straight couples, like yourself (well, at least at a couple of times in your past) without kids? Just asking.
Sorry for the high snark quotient. I’m just tired of these disingenuous arguments.