Just about everyone knows the feeling. Just about everyone has experienced that swift kick or punch to the gut that left you hurting and wanting to find a spot to recover. Well that blow came in the form of Hawaii Governor, Linda Lingle and her decision to veto HB444, better known as the civil-unions bill. Gov. Lingle chose to put HB444 on the potential veto list back in June. The list allows the Hawaii legislature time to gather the votes needed for a potential override session. By putting a bill on the potential veto list, Gov. Lingle afforded herself more time to hear testimony and zero in on a decision. The decision was needed on July 7. If Gov. Lingle chooses to neither sign or veto a bill, that bill will become law without her signature.
Gov. Lingle explained her decision to veto HB444 by stating it had nothing to do with her personal opinion or religious belief. It was one of the final acts of the two-term governor of Hawaii as she officially left her position at the end of the day. Gov. Lingle had previously stated her support for a civil-unions bill that would extend benefits afforded married couples to those entered into a civil-union. Perhaps the realization that any possible future career would hinge on her decision on the bill, ultimately led to her choice. Further trying to salvage her image, Lingle stated her desire to see the measure put on the ballot for the voters to decide. This is one of the most frustrating paradoxes of a democracy. Gov. Lingle is willing to put equal rights of a minority, up to the voting majority. The outcome is usually predictable. Why would the majority choose to bring the minority into the fold?
The main argument against HB444 is primarily a religious one. The common barb is that God created the institution of marriage to bond a man and woman together. The argument is that civil-unions would pose a threat to traditional marriage and would result in the decay of society and of marriage. A news flash to these detractors, the current divorce rate in America hovers around 50%! Did you read that! Marriage is already being threatened. The sanctimony of this religious institution is being harmed by the very people claiming to defend it! Two women kissing does not damage my relationship any more than a coughing person affects the tides of the ocean. See a relation with that example? Of course not. Civil-unions have no bearing on traditional marriage. This type of conspiracy thinking really is the result of a lack of understanding of our neighbors and a rush to judgment. I must have missed the memo which confirmed that all homosexuals were atheists and wished to destroy family values. Is it possible to be added to THAT mailing list?
As a final blow to the equal rights lobby, Gov. Lingle attempted to take the moral high ground in saying that “It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials.” How interesting of a statement. It is interesting that someone would claim that an issue is too important for an individual official to decide, yet proceed to make the decision individually. It is comparable to a parent explaining to a child the problems with stealing, while at the same moment forging checks. Is Gov. Lingle really that dense? Does she really think that her decision is preventing a single group or elected official rule on such an important issue? No. She is obviously a very intelligent person. The only other option is that she is a complete hypocrite. There is no other explanation. If she had really wanted the voting public to vote on the issue, she should have stated so when the bill was initially introduced and not stalled until her final day in office. If she really supported civil-unions, she should have allowed the bill to pass without her signature and announced her desire to see the issue put on the ballot for the voters to decide.
Gov. Linda Lingle ended her time as Hawaii’s governor with a legacy of killing the hopes of all equal-rights supporters and the potential to help a struggling local economy. Our elected officials were chosen to make the tough decisions that would benefit the entire state and not just a privileged majority. Instead, Lingle chose to shirk on her responsibilities and pass the buck along to her successor. The November election will drastically affect any chance the bill will have at becoming law next session. The movement came up close this year. One can only pray that next year will be the time when the glass is shattered and the break through finally arrives. Until then, we can thank Gov. Linda Lingle for that lovely punch to the gut!