The time may *finally* be right to enact a “civil unions” law in Hawaii. After a roller coaster session last year, HB444 relating to Civil Unions was approved by the legislature only to be vetoed by the Governor, making it farther than any other similar bill had in Hawaii. [A decent summary of HB444 history can be read on wikipedia.] After a very public and emotional fight during an election year, politicians on the record in favor of equal rights for all were returned to their seats by voters despite efforts against them by religious groups opposed to HB444. That most important “poll” conducted in the voting booths, coupled with the election of a new Governor who is in favor of Civil Unions set up the current legislative session as an opportune time to pass legislation that would grant all the rights, protections and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples. The common feeling as the legislative session approached was that a civil unions bill would be introduced, heard and passed quickly and early in the session so that lawmakers could then move on to other less contentious topics.
So here we are. The legislative session opened on Weds Jan 19th. Thursday and Friday seemed to be mostly house-keeping days as committee seats were assigned and bills were introduced. A quick look at the legislature’s website shows that so far 1096 bills have been introduced in the Senate and 820 have been introduced in the House. A text search shows that of those, 2 Senate bills — SB231 & SB232 — relate to civil unions. More on the difference between these two bills later. Late on Friday afternoon, after many people had moved on to pau hana happy hours, a notice was released announcing a hearing for SB232 on Monday at 10am. We had expected a bill to be heard early, but wow, that was really fast! Now it is time to do our part and get our testimonies together over the weekend and submit them before 4pm on Monday.
First of all — please do your part and submit testimony enthusiastically supporting civil unions, and equality for LGBT families, by Monday January 24, before 4 pm. Select one of these ways to submit testimony:
- By email: Send to the Judiciary Committee at JDLTestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov. Testimony sent to individual senators will not be accepted.
- By web: Testimony may be submitted online if less than 4MB in size at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/emailtestimony.
- In person: Bring one copy to the committee clerk in Room 002, State Capitol.
- By fax: Fax to the Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Office at 808-586-6659 or 1-800-586-6659 (toll free for neighbor islands), at least 24 hours prior to the hearing.
Submitted testimony must include the bill number (SB232), as well as the hearing date and time (January 25, 10 am). The most effective testimony is a brief paragraph that tells the committee who you are and why you support equality. If you can’t find the testimony you submitted last year, or if you want to get ideas from others, all of last years testimony can be viewed here.
Now, onto some rambling commentary after the jump… (more…)