Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hawaii Considers Civil Unions

Hawaii -- the state that caused all the problems in 1993 when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, prompting the passage of the 1996 Federal Defense of Marriage Act -- is back in gay news. This time, they are considering civil unions as an alternative.

From Forbes:
Civil union proposals would be designed to give gay couples the same rights as married couples, said Majority Leader Rep. Blake Oshiro, D-Aiea-Halawa.

"It's always been about equality and equal rights," Oshiro said.

Civil unions have broader support from labor unions and some religious groups this year than in the past, said Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, D-Waipahu-Waikele, the new House Judiciary Committee chairman who will hear the bill.

No word yet on the likelihood of passing, but, with a Democratic House/Senate and a Dem for Governor... and being one of the bluest states west of the Mississipi, it seems like a possibility.

Is it obnoxious to anyone else that Forbes entitled this as "Hawaii considers gambling, gay marriage"?

I am not reading a damn thing about marriage equality.

Oh, and PS, Hawaii is very much where I dream to be in five years. It's now part of the ever-changing five year plan. The University of Hawaii-Manoa's Master of Public Health program is looking very tempting on this 15-degree night.

Update: Thanks to the indomitable JereKeys, I stand corrected: Hawaii's Supreme Court did not rule that gay marriages were legal or required under the Hawaiian Constitution. Rather, the ruling said that the state had to prove that there was a compelling interest that gays could not get married under the Equal Rights Amendment, that denying equal marriage was not equitable to discrimination based on sex. In other words, the Supreme Court asked the state: "Gay marriage? Well, why not?" The court case is called Baehr v. Lewin, and a great summary of it can be found on Findlaw here.

So much for my excellent research skills. :-)

But, my point remains the same: Hawaii really did set off this whole process and put it on the national stage -- despite some halting attempts through the 1970s and 1980s, this was the case that really started the flame (teehee) and eventually led to the passage of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act 3 years late.

1 comment:

Jere Keys said...

Technically, I don't think Hawaii ever legalized gay marriage. The Supreme Court sent the issue back to lower courts with instructions for the state to prove compelling interest in banning them. As the case was still being debated, the people of Hawaii passed a bill giving the state legislature the constitutional authority to define marriage.