Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle must decide today whether to sign the civil unions bill enacted by the legislature at the end of April. (Hawaii time is six hours behind EDT, so it’s only 10:30 am there right now). After wrestling with the issue for more than two months now, this is it: under state law, today’s the last day for her decision. Here‘s a quote from yesterday that makes me optimistic:
“I really thought about this more than I thought about any other piece of legislation and any other issue that’s faced society,” said Gov. Lingle. “I don’t know the exact number but I think it’s running 60-40 against but as I’m going to talk about tomorrow — that isn’t what helped me to make a decision on this it was really the depth of feeling on both sides — so I look forward to sharing that with everybody tomorrow.”
Why optimistic? It seems to me that the effect — and by extension, the depth of feeling — would be greater on the side of those directly affected than by those whose lives will be at most peripherally affected, by her decision. And the civil union offers a compromise that a governor — especially one about to leave office — can and should have the courage to offer. This moderate Republican, in a dark blue state, might be a bellwether for her party on this issue of fundamental fairness. But don’t count on that, given the dismal state of the GOP these days.